Homesickness is pining for home and family during extended absence. It stems from the loss of security, comfort and familiarity – and it’s quite common among college freshmen. A 2016 study by researchers at the Higher Education Research Institute at University of California-Los Angeles found that 71 percent of college freshmen reported feelings of homesickness, and 57 percent felt isolated from campus life.
These feelings can be especially sharp in freshmen who’ve enrolled in a college that’s far removed from the familiarity and comfort of their childhood home. Mild homesickness can actually be enabling – many students overcome mild feelings of homesickness by throwing themselves headlong into their studies and embracing the social aspects of college life. Embracing the many changes that come with entering college can help new situations become familiar more quickly.
For others, intense homesickness, and the ensuing feelings of depression, can be crippling. Intense homesickness is more than just missing family and home — it’s missing all that’s familiar, normal and comfortable. For these students, it’s important to remember that you aren’t alone; remember, nearly three-quarters of all college freshmen have experienced these same feelings.
Put these three steps into play to help combat homesickness:
#1 Get comfy with your new surroundings.
Don’t stay isolated in your dorm room. Explore campus, especially places where students congregate. Talk to people. Make new friends. Explore your new city. Find places you like to eat, hang out and study. The more you get to know your new surroundings, the less scary and inhibitive they will be.
#2 Get involved.
Join an on-campus club or organization, or a local gym. Soak up your free time with activities you enjoy. College can be hard work, but it also can be fun. Nothing to do at night? Go root for your university at sporting events – chances are you’ll make some friends along the way. The more social connections you make in your new home, the more it will begin to feel like your old home.
#3 Seek counseling.
College counselors are experts at helping homesick freshmen overcome the challenges of leaving home and establishing their own identity in a new place. Seek out these free resources to relieve feelings of isolation and homesickness.
Keeping a full schedule – and not just with the boring routine of study, eat, sleep – is a great way for college freshmen to overcome feelings of homesickness. The less idle time you have, the less you’ll pine for home.