I remember the day I moved to college. My parents drove me to campus and helped me unpack all of my boxes. Then they left. I thought everything was hunky dory, I went to bed, and I woke up with a raging case of homesickness.
Every college freshman is going to go through bouts of homesickness, even if they don’t admit it. But the way you choose to handle it can either help the problem or make it a million times worse.
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts to help you power through your homesickness.
Do: Call Home
There’s no reason to suffer in silence! If you’re feeling homesick, reach out to the people you’re missing – your Mom, your Dad, your brother, or your best friend. You’ll be surprised how much better you’ll feel just by hearing their voices and finding out what they’re up to.
Don’t: Be On the Phone for Hours
A 15 minute “pick me up” conversation is one thing—it’s another to spend hours upon hours on the phone with friends and family from home. While you’re reaching out to old friends and family, you’re missing out on all the fun opportunities going on during orientation (and a lots of chances to make new friends). So put the phone down and get involved!
Do: Be Honest About How You Feel
I know – it seems really uncool to admit that you’re homesick. But trust me – you’re not alone. Everyone feels homesick at some point in their freshman year. After all, moving away from your parent’s and learning to live on your own is one of the biggest life changes you’ll go through. So be honest about how you feel—stuffing your emotions will only make them worse. Open up to your roommates and other new friends about what’s going on—you may just find they’re feeling the same way, and that you can be a support system for one another.
Don’t: Spend Every Day in Tears
You should absolutely talk about the way you feel and reach out to those around you when you’re homesick. But at the same time, if you’re crying every day and missing out on activities and your classes because you’re so upset, that may be the sign of a bigger problem. If the homesickness is truly overwhelming, speak to a mental health professional who can help you get a handle on things. Most campuses have mental health services for students, and that can be a great place to start.
Do: Indulge Yourself
Sometimes you’re going to be homesick, and it’s going to suck. When those moments rear their heads, indulge in something that provides comfort and makes you feel better. Maybe this is watching your favorite movie, taking a walk in the park, or buying yourself a small treat. Those little perks, especially if they’re inexpensive, are a great way to get through the first few weeks of college when you’re missing home the most.
Don’t: Overdo It
When you’re a freshman and you have freedom for the first time in your life, it can be tempting to go a little crazy, especially if you’re feeling down. Don’t let your homesickness drive you to mistakes you’ll have to pay for later, like binge-eating pint after pint of Ben & Jerry’s or maxing out your credit cards on a shoe shopping spree.
Do: Plan Visits
Having a visit planned during the first semester can alleviate homesickness because you’ll know exactly when you’ll be reuniting with your loved ones (and getting a dose of your favorite hometown pizza). As the homesickness subsides, you’ll find you made need to make fewer and fewer trips home.
Don’t: Go Home Every Weekend
If you go home every weekend, especially your first few weeks of school, you’ll miss out on some of the best events of the year and a chance to bond with hallmates and classmates. Instead, try to plan visits when others will be going home too, like fall and Thanksgiving break. Moving away to college can be sort of like ripping of a band-aid; the faster you can power through it, the faster the homesickness will subside.
Above all else, be patient with yourself if you’re feeling homesick. Even if the sadness seems completely overwhelming in the beginning, it does subside as you get settled into your new routine. Before you know it, you may even find yourself dreading the end of the semester because you don’t want to say goodbye to all of your new friends.