Don’t drop out just yet.
By D’Ariel Myrick, University of Georgia
During my freshman year of college, I called home a lot more often than I expected.
In orientation, students and parents were warned about the anxiety associated with students moving to a college campus, but I didn’t think I’d be one of those students. I lived with my family in Atlanta for eighteen years, but it was time to leave the nest, so I enrolled into the University of Georgia, which is less than two hours away.
Nevertheless, when my family dropped me off a few days before classes began, I wanted to cry. I called my mom every day, sometimes several times a day, just to hear her voice. I felt alone and wanted to go home.
Everyone feels some degree of homesickness, regardless of distance, so here is a list of the best ways to cope.
1. It’s Okay to Miss Home
Some students think missing home is wrong, and they don’t want to admit their unhappiness about being away from home, but it’s okay. If you miss home, the anxiety and sadness does not mean that you don’t like college or can’t handle being away from home.
Homesickness means that you are adjusting to change, which may take time. Admit you’re homesick, and push forward. Then, once you realize what you’re feeling and take necessary steps to ease homesickness, you can begin to enjoy college.
Don’t focus on the fact that you’re homesick, but do something about your feelings. Allow yourself a few months to feel different and miss home. Your emotion are normal, but don’t let them overrun your life.
Think about what you miss most about home, and remember the good times. Go through the experience, so you can move on and transition into college life.
2. You Are Not Alone
College is a big place, even if you attend a small school, so feeling like an outsider is understandable. A great solution to loneliness and homesickness is to find support. You will soon realize you are not alone, because everyone experiences homesickness.
Finding others who are experiencing the same feelings can create friendships. Spend more time getting to know people on campus instead of sitting on your twin XL thinking about home.
The basis of homesickness is the continual thinking and longing for home, so making friends and getting on-campus support will help comfort you during this difficult time.
3. Call Your Family
College is a new environment, so when you feel overwhelmed and homesick, call home. Your mom’s voice can bring long distance comfort. Remember, college is your parents’ first time without you home, so they miss you as much as you miss them.
Call to tell them about your day and all the new things in your life. Calling about ordinary events will create a bridge of communication to keep you and your family connected.
Keep calls in perspective, though, so you don’t waste your days on the phone instead of living college life and keeping up with schoolwork. Freshman year is a time to adjust to the increased workload and balance social and academic life, so constant calls back home may prove cumbersome.
Call once a day for the first few months of your first year, then wane the calls down to once a week and when important events happen, like a grade or joining a club.
4. Go Home, but Not Too Often
Living so close to home, I’m tempted to visit every other weekend, and if I had my own car, I might. Going home doesn’t allow you to experience college properly though, because you’re always home or thinking about leaving for the weekend.
Students far from home don’t have the luxury to go home often, but the mindset of a far-away student will help you stay on campus and ease homesickness faster than jumping in your car every weekend.
As an alternative, go out with friends and see what the surrounding city or town has to offer. When all else fails, think of the pile of homework you could be doing instead of going home for the weekend. Staying on campus will benefit you in the long run.
Home is a frequent crutch for students experiencing homesickness, but staying on campus will reduce how often you miss home because you can start to adjust to campus life.
5. Use Your Technology
Sometimes, a call won’t be enough, and you can’t go home. Use technology to your advantage. Video chat with your family. Skype and FaceTime are different from in-person conversation, but seeing your relatives will help you feel closer to home. College can be scary, so a familiar face can help ease anxiety.
Also, you can show Mom and Dad cool things around campus. You feel more connected to them, and vice versa, by seeing them on phone apps. If you have a family pet, your family can show you what your pet is doing, and you can feel less distanced from home life. Seeing and hearing familiar faces is an easy comfort.
Homesickness is natural during freshman year. College is the first time you are away from home, which is scary. Acknowledge your new feelings and environment, then move forward, taking steps to reduce homesickness. At any level, homesickness is discomforting, so talking with others and staying connected with your family are great ways to combat anxiety and discomfort.
It’s okay to feel homesick because college is new to you, but don’t run home every chance you get. College becomes more familiar over time, and one day, campus may feel like a second home. New things are scary, but college is fun, as you learn about the world and yourself. Don’t let homesickness turn you away from your goals.