Going off to college is kind of like breaking up with your life at home. You have matured and simply grown out of it. This doesn’t mean you don’t still love it and cherish the memories; but it is time to move on.
Just like breakups, there is no easy fix to getting over homesickness. It’s a process and it takes longer for some than it does for others. First and foremost you have to learn to help yourself. This is one of the first tests in college; identifying your maturity and independence. You have to accept that you are in charge of yourself now and no one is going to pull you out of this funk for you. But with the right mindset and by following these tips, you will learn to love what you left behind and prepare yourself to embrace the amazing experience that’s coming.
The freshman 15 is real and it is scary. Everyone goes into college swearing they will not be the one to gain it, but they’re not prepared for the way it can just creep up on you. If you find yourself having a lot of free time and nothing to do with it, exercising is a great choice. Suffocating yourself indoors watching Netflix with a bag of chips is the easiest way quickly gain 15 pounds. Even if you don’t want to admit it, you usually feel your best when you look your best. Joining random classes at the gym or even just going for a run around campus helps you get more familiar with your college, and also makes you feel good. Exercise is the world’s most natural distraction. Those endorphins can ease your mind and body when homesickness kicks in.
2. Find your home away from home
This, to me, was the most helpful. I felt myself getting homesick the most when I was thinking of all the things I missed from home. So I decided to research and find my “home away from home.” For me, it was the mall. What can I say, I’m a shopper. Back home whenever I had free time you would find me at just about any mall in Jersey. I don’t know what it is about shopping, but it acts as a getaway for me. I found out my campus was less than 5 minutes away from one of the biggest malls I had ever seen, and even better, they provide transportation from campus daily! If shopping isn’t your thing, look for something in your area that you feel a part of your home in. It could be the local sports teams or maybe a park or an animal shelter. Find something that brings you normalcy, that’s ultimately why we feel homesick, because we are surrounded by unfamiliar things. Finding your home away from home can make your transition a little easier.
3. Stay connected but not consumed
This is so important. Staying connected with family and friends is a must. You want to hear all about their days because you’re not there to experience it with them, and that’s great! But sometimes when you are feeling homesick and missing your people from back home, you begin to get consumed in their new life, and forget to make one for yourself. It is a little gut wrenching when you are sitting in your dorm room on a Thursday night, doing homework, and you look at Snapchat and see all of your friends from home out at what looks like the best party in the world. You sit there thinking what am I doing wrong? How come they’re having so much fun and I’m not? I’m here to remind you that everything is not what it seems. It is very easy to trick the outside world into believing you are having the time of your life when you are really having the same homesickness struggles as others who just happen to show it more. So of course, stay connected with friends and ask how their school is and tell each other stories. But just remember, the grass always looks greener on the other side. Don’t be so quick to assume that they are not struggling at all, just because it doesn’t appear that way.
4. Get out of your room
Don’t get me wrong, a huge part of feeling comfortable at your new school is making your dorm room your home. It makes things a lot easier when you’re in a warm and homey room, instead of something cold and bare walled; making you feel like you’re in some sort of prison. But getting too comfortable being in your room will not do much good for you. Instead, it tends to isolate you from meeting new people or even just being around people in general. Your room should be your safe haven, to relax and sleep – not to eat every meal or study or do homework with the T.V. on in the background. You should not spend every free second you get in your room either. If you finish your work early, ask your friend or your roommate to get food with you or take a trip to the bookstore. Having your own you time is definitely important but it is also important to know when you’re spending too much time alone. It is easy to feel sad when you are by yourself and miss being surrounded by the people you love. But you need to help yourself by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and spend more time around others going through the same thing. Which brings me to my last point.
5. Understand that you’re not the only one
No matter if you go to a big school or a small school, there are a lot of people going through a similar change. But being overwhelmed by the new transition, it is easy to feel like you are the only one who is having a hard time, or affected by homesickness. Not only are you not the only one, you should be relieved to know that most people actually are. It is completely normal. No matter how many movies you watch or how many people you live vicariously through, no one can truly prepare you for what it is like to start a new life at college.
But just like most things in life, it’s a little easier when you don’t have to go through it alone. Reach out to a classmate or floor mate; it is a good way to make friends and definitely a conversation starter. If you guys talk about your life at home and what you miss, you may find similar interests, which can be a nice start to a good friendship. To have people to open up and talk to on campus is a must, sometimes a phone call or a text to someone back home is just not the same. And in return, be that person that is there for someone when they seem homesick or reach out to you. It’ll be good for the both of you!
I know, breaking up with your home life is some sort of relief, but also uncomfortable and really hard. And just like breakups, everyone takes their own amount of time to move on and feel better. So take all the time that you need, but continue to help yourself by following these tips. You will start feeling better and loving your new home sooner than you think!
Featured image source: engaged-brains.wikispaces.com and blogspot.com
Shannon is a Jersey girl attending Syracuse as a freshman. Interested in Communications but more importantly, when the next time she’ll be eating sushi is.