Feeling homesick is one of the hardest parts of leaving home and moving away to college. Bare dorm room walls and unfamiliar surroundings do nothing to welcome you into your new environment. For a lot of people, it’s the first time they’ve ever been away from home or without their parents for a long period of time, so adjusting to an entirely new place and entirely new people is a challenge. So if you’re feeling out of sorts, don’t stress– here are a few ways to cure homesickness when you’re away at college.
1. Fill your room with pictures of friends and family
When I first came to college, I was so excited to be in a new city and to meet new people. But then all at once, I started feeling homesick, and I missed my friends and family terribly. I realized that I’d brought all these pictures from home with me that were just sitting in a drawer in my desk. I put them up all over the wall, so any time I looked up, the people and places I love so much were staring back at me. I really underestimated what a huge difference in my attitude such a small change would make. If you’re missing the people back home, fill your room with pictures of them and all of the great memories you have with them!
2. Have a “family dinner” with your friends
Everyone says that one of the worst parts of being at college is that no one’s there to make you a home-cooked meal. My friends have complained to me about how they miss sitting down with the good company and having a nice, hot meal. So why not make one yourself? If you have access to a kitchen, get together with some friends, play some music, and cook yourselves a dinner that isn’t coming from your dining hall! And even better, sit down and just enjoy it together. It’ll make you feel right at home with a new kind of family when you’re missing the one waiting for you back home. Bonus points if you cook a family favorite dish!
3. Schedule times to call home
Everyone gets busy in the middle of the semester. Between mid-terms, extra-curricular, and work, it can be easy to forget to call home, especially when your parents or friends from home are busy too. Avoid missing your family’s calls by setting up a standing phone date! Sometimes just knowing you can count on talking to your mom at the same time every week can do wonders when you’re feeling homesick. I definitely have moments that I forget how much better just a quick phone call home makes me feel when I’m missing everyone. And not only will it make you feel better, but the people at home that love you will also be looking forward to hearing from you!
4. Don’t forget the details
Is there a certain candle that always burns in your house? Are there little trinkets you see on your desk at home every day? Bring them with you! I always like to bring my favorite books from my bookshelf back home and put them on the desk in my dorm room. A lot of people I know have a special stuffed animal or unique item that brings them joy. Bringing the little pieces of home that make it unique will make your new space feel cozy and familiar.
5. Get out and explore!
Everyone starts feeling homesick eventually, but it’s important to take steps that will help you settle into the place you’ll be living all school year. Part of the reason why we feel homesick is that we don’t know our surroundings– we miss knowing where the closest coffee shop is or how to get to our favorite go-to late-night restaurant. An unfamiliar setting can’t feel like home. So get familiar! Find out where the best places to get a snack between class or go shopping on the weekends are! Making memories and experiencing all your new city or campus has to offer will make it feel like home in no time. It’s also hard to have enough time to be homesick when you’re too busy exploring an entirely new place!
6. Join an organization
The idea that we make our own families is especially true in college. It’s important to find a support system that can act as your interim family while you’re away from your real one. Figure out what kind of organizations on campus interest you, and start going to meetings. Whether it’s a club related to your major, fraternity and sorority life, or an activist group, getting involved in something that’s fun and enriching is good for any college student. If you’re feeling homesick, joining an organization will keep your mind busy, and you could meet some really great friends! It’s never a bad thing to put yourself out there and try something you are interested in.
7. Remember you’re not alone
Moving away from home is really hard. Sometimes all you want is to be home with your pets, parents, or friends. Don’t keep all your feelings bottled up; talk to the people around you. Odds are, your friends at school feel the exact same way, and more often than not, they’ll be happy to try to cheer you up. Make your parents show you your dog on FaceTime, or make plans with your friends from back home for the holidays so you have something to look forward to. Homesickness is a pretty universal feeling, and if you tell the people around you that it’s bothering you, they’re bound to be sympathetic and want to help you through it.
It can be easy to dwell on everything that you’re missing back home, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying your time with all of the new people around you. When feeling homesick starts bringing me down, I like to remind myself how awesome it is that I have so many people to miss back home, while I can have fun and continue to grow in my new home.