Top 10 Tips for Dealing with Homesickness at College

Written by: Lindsay Shugerman

August 29, 2011
Filed Under Education 


Contributed by Lindsay Shugerman, Top 10 Guru

You’ve looked forward to college for years. You couldn’t wait to be on your own, far from family curfews and that bathroom you had to share with your sister.

But now that you’re there, it’s not feeling quite like you imagined. In fact, you miss your parents, your room, your dog. You are homesick.

Before you hop on the next flight home, give these tips for dealing with homesickness at college a try.

10. Know that homesickness at college is normal

Some people are embarrassed by their feelings of homesickness. But the fact is, most college freshman experience some kind of homesickness. And the first semester is the hardest. Just knowing that what you feel is normal, and will pass, can make it easier to deal with.

9. Make your room your own

Settling into your room, placing your things on the desk and dresser, making your bed and hanging your posters can make your new space feel more like home. Once you have the things you brought with you unpacked, buy one or two new items to add a fresh look to your dorm room or apartment.

If your budget is tight, there are usually free poster give-aways around college campuses. And the local thrift store can be a great source for super-cheap frames, decorations and even furniture.

8. Do something you love

Whether you love to read, scrapbook, hit a tennis ball, run or draw, think of something you love to do, and immerse yourself in it.

Your favorite activities will offer a welcome distraction from homesickness, and make you feel more at home.

7. Make a discovery checklist

No, this is not a bucket list. This is a list of every event, location and local tourist attraction you want to see. Then use free afternoons or mornings to explore, checking things off your list as you go.

For an extra dose of homesick-beating medicine, ask your roommate or classmate to go along and explore with you.

6. Blog about your experiences, but make it funny

Almost every experience in college has a funny side, so share that on a blog. Write about the instance drop/add procedure, or the weird stuff the bookstore sells with school logos (does anyone really and truly want a mascot-adorned toilet paper holder? Seriously!)

5. Identify the triggers

For me, the worst time was twilight, when I would see the headlights of cars heading home. But instead of sitting there, wishing I could head home, too, I made sure to stay busy and away from the windows at twilight.

For my roommate, it was a certain TV show she used to watch with her sister. Instead of watching it alone and feeling sad, she invited a bunch of dorm mates to watch it with her, and then talked about it afterwards in a phone call with her sister.

Figure out what triggers your homesickness at college and either avoid it, or do new things at that time so you start to associate good college experiences with it.

4. Keep in touch with the folks back home.

No, you shouldn’t spend hours a day on the phone with your buddies from high school, but checking in with the folks, chatting with a friend still at home, or even talking to your annoying little brother for a few minutes can help keep connected, and reduce homesick feelings.

3. Talk to people who have been through it

Talking to people who have made it through the experience can often help. Not only will it remind you that homesickness at college is normal, they may be able to provide you with some ideas for dealing with it.

2. Talk to your RA, advisor or a school counselor

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by homesickness, seek out your RA, an advisor or a school counselor. You may need to talk with a professional to learn coping techniques.

1. Book a flight home…but not for tomorrow

If all else fails, book a flight home for some time on familiar turf. But don’t pick the next available flight. Make it several weeks down the road. Not only will that ticket give you something to look forward to, you’ll have several weeks to get more comfortable at college. That way it will be easier to return to school and your new life at college when the visit is over.


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