Going off to college might be the first time you’ve ever really been away from home. It can be a difficult adjustment, but we want to encourage you to embrace all of the changes ahead!
While you may experience some degree of “homesickness,” don’t let it get you down. Instead, here are some ways to manage your feelings and work through the difficulties of missing home.
Stay on campus! The first few weekends at school can be intimidating. Where will you go? What will you do? And who will you hang out with? It is easy to just want to go home, especially if you are within driving distance. However, try really hard to stick it out. Staying on campus over the weekend is a great way to explore all that your college has to offer, and we don’t mean classes!
Explore the town or village closest to your campus, go see a movie with your roommate or attend a campus event like a concert, comedy show or special reception. There will always be something going on — it’s up to you to take advantage of it. The more you do, the less you will concentrate on the feeling of missing home. Plus, you may just find yourself having fun!
Get to know new people. When you are away at school, you must form some kind of support group. It is important to remember that most incoming freshmen will have the same fears as you; everyone wants to make friends. Start with your roommate. Not a good match? That’s okay, too. Be the friendly face that others need to see and you will likely form friendships faster than you ever expected.
And here’s a helpful tip: don’t expect your roommate to automatically be best friend material. It’s great when new roommates become lifelong friends, but realistically, that is not always the case. Don’t harp on it — just try your best to live together as friendly acquaintances if you don’t exactly see eye-to-eye.
Get involved. Every college campus has more clubs or organizations than you can imagine. Get involved as soon as you get to school. Many clubs will have the first meeting of the year during the first or second week of classes, so pay attention to flyers and emails letting you know about all of the events coming up. Find a club that sounds cool and go for it!
Attend residence hall programs. If you are living on campus, your dorm will likely hold residence hall programs for you to enjoy. Many of these programs are held throughout the semester and are organized by the resident assistants (RA’s). A variety of programs are offered in every dorm, and yours will be no exception. You’ll likely find programs such as scavenger hunts, video game tournaments and door decorating. The purpose of these programs is to allow you to get to know the other people in your dorm and for them to get to know you.
Know your stress level. College is much different than high school. You may be tempted to get involved in every club you come across — don’t! Try to stick to just one or two that you really enjoy so that you aren’t stretching yourself too thin. Remember, clubs and other social activities are nice, but school work comes first. If you do feel stressed by too many activities and an overwhelming course load, make sure you cut back where possible.
Try new opportunities. College will offer a wide variety of new classes for you to choose from, including subjects you have never even heard of before. Try taking a class that you know nothing about. This will give you something to look forward to each week and help keep your mind off of what you miss at home.
Take time out to relax. Taking walks, exercising, listening to music, deep breathing or talking with a friend are all great ways to relax. It is easy to become uptight when you are homesick, but knowing ways to calm down and relieve some stress will help you relax.
Know who to turn to. If you do feel homesick, it’s okay. But it is important to know who to turn to should you need some help. Of course your parents, friends and family are always great support, but try making some new connections at school to ensure you are able to cope with feeling homesick. Try talking to your roommate, your R.A., or even a professor you like. If nothing seems to help, try reaching out to a licensed professional on campus. Most on-campus health and wellness centers are great places to go for help and can best direct you for whatever your needs may be.
The best cure for feeling homesick is willingness to embrace the new! Get involved, stay busy and be open to the changes that college life will bring. You don’t have to let go of everything at home, but being away at college will help you learn to stand on your own. You will gain a new level of confidence that you never knew you had and, as you forge new friendships and get involved, you will quickly learn to love your new home away from home.
Alexandria Suto is a graduate of St. John Fisher College (www.sjfc.edu).