Dear everyone who traveled a significant distance from home for college, congratulations. You did what lots of people were afraid to, unable to, or unwilling to do and I’m sure some (even if it was small) part of you had difficulty with it. Lots of us have left left behind people who care for us and love us, and will most definitely miss us. I made the journey halfway across the country from San Diego to Minneapolis. It was definitely a culture shock, and I knew next to no one here, but that only made me want to jump right into meeting new people. However, I know that for so many others, this makes them want to hold on tighter to the ones they left behind. If you’re one of those people who are having trouble transitioning to college, even just a little, here are some ideas on how to handle being homesick.
Remember it’s not “goodbye”
Actually saying goodbye makes leaving seem so concrete, but you must remember – it’s not! Whether it’s for Thanksgiving break, Winter break, or in nine months when Summer starts again, you will see your family and friends sooner than you think. Don’t make your departures a movie style “farewell,” instead, a simple “see you later” will make it feel like it’s not really goodbye.
One really meaningful thing to do is to give each of your loved ones something that will keep you in their minds while you’re away. This could be something you make for them or something that’s yours and you’d rather they hold on to. In my case it was a letter telling them why I will miss them and what they’ve meant to me. Something that provides a reminder that you’re on your way to doing great things is best.
Look back on the memories
You know all those memories you made the summer before you left for college – look back on those. Spend a few moments reminiscing about those times that were memorable and meaningful and I promise a few smiles will cross your face. For me it’s remembering those times I went to a boba café and played Jenga with my friends, or when I made my parents dinner and we shared quality time together. Flashes of these moments help me handle being homesick and encourage me to stay positive.
Keep in touch
Whether it’s email or snail mail, smoke signals or telegrams, Skype or FaceTime, KEEP IN CONTACT! I didn’t mention texting because in my opinion that’s too simple and easy to really keep a relationship strong. At least call for God’s sake! Let your loved ones know that in your busy college schedule you’ve taken the time to let them know how your life is going. It’s amazing what seeing someone’s face (even on a screen), seeing their handwriting amongst a pile of junk mail or recognizing a voice over the phone, can do for both of you.
Take care of yourself
This may seem obvious, but your loved ones, especially your parents and family members, will feel so much better knowing that you are healthy and happy while you’re away. If they’re worrying if you’re eating well, or sleeping enough, it’s only going to make it harder on them. So make sure you mention (even subtly) that you’re doing well and feeling good, and if you’re not, tell them that too! Mom will gladly give you Grandma’s secret soup recipe for you to attempt to recreate in your dorm kitchen, or maybe Dad can send you a care package of all the things he gave you to help keep you sane when you were bed-ridden.
Make new friends
Forming new relationships won’t erase your old ones, so make new connections! Network, join intramural sports, or try out Greek life. Meet people who remind you of the people you love. I know you miss your old friends but there are plenty of new friends to be made! Surrounding yourself with people you are fond of will help ease the pain of being homesick, I promise.
Do what you came there to do!
Simple, but important! You left for a reason, don’t forget that. Your friends and family are proud of what you’re doing and of what you will do. You’re on a journey to bettering yourself, and they are excited to see who you grow to become. Get good grades, have fun, and build a life in a place that maybe, just maybe, you will call home. Who knows where this new path will take you, but the people you love will be right there with you the whole way – you’re carrying them in your heart.