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Very few people are immune from homesickness. Kids going to summer camp, people relocating to new jobs, vacationers traveling abroad, and college students leaving home are all subject to yearnings for the comforts of home. Feeling "homesick" may include sadness, loneliness, nervousness, insecurity, missing loved ones, or apathy towards your new environment.
In most cases, periods of homesickness (especially just after a transition) are normal. Not only are you experiencing a major adjustment to your new environment, but you are also experiencing a loss of what was comfortable and predictable. Homesickness can be triggered by major losses, or changes in geography, sleeping/eating patterns, peer groups, living situations, activities, classes, and living accommodations.
Here are some tips that may help you in your transition:
Give yourself permission to be homesick!
Realize that a period of "homesickness" is a natural response to your transition. Being homesick doesn't mean that you're a "baby", that you're immature or that you're a "mama's boy/daddy's girl". And guess what - others who are in the same boat likely have similar feelings.
Familiarize yourself with your new surroundings
Once you know your new environment, find your way around, see where your classes are located, and discover some fun hang-outs and activities, you will likely feel more comfort and in control of your situation.
Make a list of all the things you like to do and explore what clubs or organizations are avaiable to you. Chances are you'll find one, and if you don't, talk to your residence hall staff or student government about starting one!
Bring familiar things with you
Sprucing up your apartment or residence hall room with familiar or sentimental items can help ease the shock of a new environment. Having picutres, memorabilia, or favorite possessions with you in your new living space can help facilitate a smoother transition.
Be open to NEW opportunities
Try to avoid comparing your new environment to home - it's different! Be open to exploring new situations, opportunities, people, classes, and choices. The more open you are to NEW things, the less you might miss PAST things.
Invite others in your explorations
Getting involved with others and making friends can help you feel less alone. Inviting roommates, classmates, and neighbors to explore the new environment with you can be a great way to initiate new connections, and others in the same situation are likely to join you. Approaching others with a friendly attitude and inviting them to "check out the campus" or "see what's downtown", can often lead to a positive response.
Keep in touch with friends
Stay in contact with friends and family via e-mail, real mail, and phone calls (as your budget allows!) Tell them all about your new experiences and encourage them to do the same with you.
Make plans to visit home
Knowing that you have an upcoming trip home set for a specific time may be comforting and allow you to focus on your goals while on campus. It also prevents those impulsive trips home and encourages you to invest in your new life at school. Trips home can be relaxing, but it's important that they don't become your sole focus.
What if NONE of this stuff works??
If you find that you are having trouble adjusting, or continue to feel homesick after a reasonable amount of time (4-6 weeks), you may need to talk to someone. Some things to look out for:
If you notice some of the above, or just feel as though you're not adjusting to things, you may want to consider talking to someone. Talking to friends, family, or your RA may be a good starting point. If you think you need something more, Counseling and Psychological Services offers several resources for this and other problems. If you'd like us to help, stop by today!
- Intense or long-lasting sadness/depression
- Frequent nerviousness or social anxiety
- Low energy or motivation
- Trouble sleeping
- Increases/decreases in appetite
- Feeling like you just "don't care" about anything
- Having difficulty with school
- Increased use of drugs or alcohol
- Obsessively missing family/friends
- Phone bills beyond your budget
- Pervasive unhappiness or displeasure
- Feeling like you "need" to go home
- Lack of interest or involvement in new surroundings