Coping with Homesickness in College: Tips for Students

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A girl sitting on the steps of a college building. She is looking off into the distance and feeling like she will not be able to overcome her longing for home. The article is about college homesickness tips.

Starting college is an exciting and transformative experience. It’s a time of newfound freedom, personal growth, and endless possibilities. But, amidst all the excitement, there may be an unfamiliar ache that settles in your chest—homesickness. Maybe you miss the familiarity of your hometown, the comforting faces of your loved ones, and the everyday routines that shaped your life before college. Maybe you just miss your Mom and feel out of sorts. Or maybe you don’t even know what you miss exactly. You just feel sad. This post on college homesickness tips was written especially for you, and we are confident it will give you some comfort and strategies to combat this universal experience.

Why Do Some College Kids Get Homesick While Others Don’t?

Don’t you find it weird how some students feel that tug on their heartstrings so hard after getting to school, yet others just breeze through college life without missing home at all? The kids who aren’t homesick really don’t “get” those who are, and vice versa. Without going into long, drawn-out Freudian explanations, here are a few reasons why this happens so you can better understand each other. 

How People Connect: Some folks are naturally good at forming connections and making friends. If you’re one of those people, you might find it easier to feel at home on campus. If you’re introverted and more reserved, it can take time to adjust and find your squad.

Past Experience: If you’ve already spent time away from home, like going to summer camp or traveling, you might be more used to being away from your family. That can make the transition to college life a bit smoother.

Independence Skills: Some students have had more practice being independent and caring for themselves. So, when they head off to college, they’re ready to spread their wings. However, for other students, things like preparing their own meals or creating a study schedule are more of a challenge. 

Cultural Stuff: Your background can also play a part. If you come from a tight-knit family or a culture all about sticking together, being far from home might hit you harder. In fact, it can be devastating. 

My father says you remember the smell of your country no matter where you are but only recognize it when you’re far away.

Aglaja Veteranyi, Warum das Kind in der Polenta kocht

Being Real About Feelings: Some students are totally cool with admitting they’re homesick and reaching out for support. Others might try to tough it out on their own, which can make things more complicated.

Previous Background and Home Life: This is probably the most significant difference in how students deal with homesickness differently. Let’s face it, we live in a pretty imperfect world. Being a member of a healthy family life can be a stroke of luck. Suppose you’re a student whose home life wasn’t that pleasant. In that case, you might feel that going to college is a considerable weight off your shoulders and a chance to get out of a dysfunctional situation. Who wouldn’t? It’s normal.

On the other hand, if you had a wonderful and supportive childhood with lots of positive experiences, your feelings might be entirely different. You might miss all things familiar and safe. College may seem weird, foreign, and frightening. You might feel almost like you are mourning for the life you had before. That’s normal, too. 

The good news is that homesickness can absolutely get better, and those overwhelming feelings of grief can start to dissipate. Our guide for dealing with homesickness in college is going to help.

Connecting With Family and Friends Regularly

Homesickness in college is a natural and valid emotion. It’s a reminder of the love and connection you hold for your family, friends, and the place you call home. And it’s totally okay to feel homesick. It doesn’t mean you’re weak or not cut out for this new adventure. In fact, it shows that you have the capacity to deeply care for and cherish the people and experiences that shaped who you are. One of the first and most important college homesickness tips is to stay connected with those people. 

An infographic story about what life must have been like for students leaving home and having very limited to ways to keep in touch with their families during college.

Feeling homesick is a normal part of the college experience, but staying connected with your loved ones can help alleviate those feelings and provide the support you need. Whether it’s your family or friends back home, maintaining meaningful relationships from a distance is possible thanks to the miracle of technology.

Video Calls: Bridge the Distance

Today’s tech lets you see and hear your loved ones anytime, anywhere. Use video calling platforms to connect with the people you care about. Share stories, laugh together, or simply enjoy their company virtually. These video calls can make you feel closer to home and help ease homesickness.

Care Packages: A Little Piece of Home

Receiving a care package from home can be a heartwarming surprise that instantly lifts your spirits. If you’re feeling really homesick and your family asks what they can do, this is an excellent, actionable solution. Ask them to send you a care package. Encourage your family to send you care packages filled with favorite snacks, handwritten letters, or sentimental items. Unwrapping these thoughtful gifts will remind you of the love and support you have back home and bring a sense of comfort to your college life.

This can still be done if your family doesn’t have much money. Request your favorite cookies, some photos, or a small object from home to put in your dorm room. Handwritten notes cost nothing. Anything your family sends from home will be meaningful and precious to you, no matter the circumstances. 

My freshman year at college when everything was still new and strange, my aunt sent me a really nice pair of PJs. I’ll never forget the delight and happiness I felt when I opened that package. I wore them out but always felt hugged by home when I wore them. 

Tenaj, Member of the Well-Trained Mind Community

One of my favorite care package items as a college student was a holiday pair of fun socks my mom sent me. I wore those to death until I eventually had to get rid of them in my 20s.

Vonfirmath, Member of the Well-Trained Mind Community

Regular Communication: Stay in Touch

Make sure you’re staying connected with your family and friends regularly. If you feel the need, text them every day, call them every few days, or share updates on social media. It’s all about keeping that bond strong, even when you are miles apart. Feeling like you’re still part of their daily routine can help ease any homesickness.

By staying connected with your loved ones, you can find comfort, support, and a sense of belonging even when you’re far from home. Embrace the opportunities technology provides and cherish the bonds that keep you connected. Remember, your family and friends are just a call or text away.

Getting Involved in Campus Activities and Clubs

A graphic on the benefits of getting involved in campus activities as one of the college homesickness tips.

Stepping outside your comfort zone and embracing new experiences is one of the most important college homesickness tips for overcoming these feelings. But it won’t be easy. After all, the last thing you probably want to do is engage in unfamiliar things. But don’t be afraid to try out different activities, clubs, or events that pique your interest. Soon, those unfamiliar things will start to feel normal and routine!

Getting plugged into your college community can be a game-changer, helping you beat homesickness and feel like you belong. Want the lowdown on how to make those connections and build your crew during your college adventure? Check out these tips:

Get Involved in Clubs and Organizations

Ever heard the saying, “Birds of a feather flock together”? It’s true! Joining clubs and organizations that match your interests is an awesome way to meet people who vibe with you. Whether you’re into sports, academics, or niche hobbies, there’s a group for you. Hit up club fairs, explore what your college offers, and don’t hesitate to step out of your comfort zone to find your tribe.

Hit Up College Events

Who doesn’t love a good party or event, right? College is buzzing with all sorts of cool stuff, from welcome gatherings to cultural festivals. These events are fun, but they’re also prime opportunities to mingle and make new friends who understand what it’s like to be in college. Plus, chances are, you’ll meet other students who share your feelings of homesickness. So, mark your calendar and get out there!

Study Together, Stay Together

Studying solo can be a drag, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Round up your classmates and start a study group! Not only will you crush your academics, but you’ll also bond with your peers and feel more connected to your college community. It’s also an excellent excuse for some well-deserved breaks and snacks!

Tapping into Local Community Activities

Another way to familiarize yourself with your new surroundings is to explore the local community. There are probably lots of cool things to discover. You could attend local events, explore museums, or enjoy outdoor adventures nearby. You could also check out a local coffee shop or visit the town’s farmer’s market. Immersing yourself in your new culture will give you a sense of connection and excitement.

You might be amazed to find that your new community is filled with extraordinary, caring people. And they are there, waiting to meet you. Branch out, no matter how uncomfortable it seems. And hey, when you meet new people, don’t be afraid to be honest and let them know how homesick you feel. You will be surprised at how many folks will have compassion for your feelings and want to help!

Start filling up your student planning apps with activities and explore everything your college has to offer. The more you get involved, the easier it will be to beat homesickness. So, get out there, make some memories, and enjoy the ride!

An infographic about building a supportive community as one of the college homesickness tips.

Creating a Homey and Comforting Living Space

Another one of our favorite college homesickness tips is establishing routines and finding familiarity to help you feel more comfortable in your new environment. Here are a few ways to help you settle into your new digs.

  • Get to Know Your Campus: Take a stroll around campus and scope out spots that speak to you. Finding these little hideaways can make you feel right at home, whether it’s a chill bench with a killer view or a cozy nook in the library. These spaces can become your personal havens. When you spend time in them, you’ll begin to feel more connected to your new surroundings.
  • Bring Home with You: Incorporate some of your favorite home activities or traditions into your college routine. Whether it’s cooking up a beloved dish, indulging in a hobby, or celebrating cultural events, these little reminders of home can bring you comfort and joy. Embrace these traditions and weave them into your college life to feel a sense of connection to your roots.
  • Develop Routines: Set up some consistent study habits to add structure to your college life. Figure out when and where you study best—whether it’s hitting the books in the library, joining a study crew, or carving out specific study hours. Having these routines in place will boost your productivity and give you a sense of stability. 

While you’re at it, developing other regular habits and routines, such as setting aside time to exercise and creating a sleep schedule, will help you stay mentally and physically healthy in college

  • Personalize Your Space with Familiar Items: Once you’ve sorted things out with your roomy, one of the easiest ways to make your college dorm feel like home is to personalize your space with familiar items from home. Surrounding yourself with these cherished possessions can comfort you and ease the homesickness you’re experiencing. Here are some tips on how to infuse your dorm room with familiar items:
An infographic on ways to make your dorm room feel cozy and comfortable as one of the college homesickness tips.

Seeking Professional Help When Needed

Whether you’re just starting out in college, or you are a seasoned student coming back for more, feeling homesick is very common. Instead of brushing those feelings off, it’s essential to acknowledge and accept them for what they are. Ignoring homesickness can make it harder to shake, so take some time to understand what you’re feeling. As funny as it may sound, one of the best college homesickness tips is accepting that you are homesick.

Homesickness is like a big mix of emotions—longing, sadness, nostalgia—and it hits everyone a little differently. But by letting yourself recognize and deal with these feelings, you can find ways to tackle them head-on. One way to do this is to journal about your feelings. Think about what you miss most about home. Is it your cozy bedroom, the laughs with your family, or just the sights and sounds of your hometown? Take some time to mourn those things; it’s totally okay.

Remember, feeling homesick is an entirely normal part of the college gig for loads of students. Adjusting to a new scene takes time, so cut yourself some slack. You’re not alone in feeling this way.

Maybe you had to leave in order to really miss a place; maybe you had to travel to figure out how beloved your starting point was.

Jodi Picoult, Handle with Care

Exploring Campus Resources for Support

Colleges understand the struggles students may go through. They are accustomed to helping homesick students like you! You don’t need to go it alone when you have dedicated resources to help you navigate homesickness and adjust to college life. Take advantage of the support services available on your campus. 

Counseling Services

For some students, homesickness can become debilitating. If you’re finding yourself anxious, unable to concentrate in class, or sad and depressed much of the time, you may want to talk to a professional about what you’re going through.

Most colleges provide counseling services to support their students’ mental and emotional well-being. Mental health resources on campus are there for a reason—to help students who are having trouble coping. The counseling pros there have plenty of experience talking to homesick students, and they can give you some advice and tips to help you feel better and boost your emotional intelligence. Take advantage of these services! Seeking counseling is a proactive step towards finding the support you need.

Peer Mentors

Many colleges have mentorship programs where experienced students act as mentors to incoming students. It’s like having a wise older sibling to show you the ropes. Peer mentors have firsthand knowledge of the challenges you might be facing. They can share their own experiences to help you feel more supported and understood. They can also provide valuable insights and advice on how to navigate homesickness and college life in general. 

Peer mentors can be a fantastic resource for building connections and gaining guidance throughout your college journey.

Academic Advisors

Academic advisors specialize in assisting students with their academic goals and choices. They help you plan your coursework, select the right classes, and ensure you’re on track to meet your academic requirements. But many advisors are not just about grades—some will also lend an ear and offer support when you’re feeling homesick. Building a positive relationship with your academic advisor can benefit you throughout your entire college journey. 

Support Groups

Some college campuses have support groups specifically designed for students dealing with homesickness or other adjustment issues. These groups offer a safe space to meet and connect with others going through the same things you are going through. Participating in such groups can provide a sense of belonging, help you feel less alone, and get tips on beating homesickness. They are also a great way to meet new friends! Check with your college’s counseling center or student services office to see if they offer support groups that you can join.

Remember, reaching out for help when you’re homesick isn’t a sign of weakness—it’s a sign of strength. Your college wants you to succeed! So, take advantage of all the services they offer to help make your college experience a positive one.

What if My School Doesn’t Offer the Help I Need?

While most of today’s colleges offer mental health and counseling, some may not. Others may be understaffed and unable to help you when you need it most. If this is the case, you may need to reach out for some off-campus help. So, how do you know when it’s time to reach out to do this? A few signs that indicate you should be more aggressive in looking for help include:

An infographic listing several ways a students should be aware they need mental health outside of campus.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and they are interfering with your daily life, it’s vital to seek professional help, whether on or off campus. The sooner you reach out, the sooner you can begin developing strategies for managing homesickness and improving your overall well-being. 

Colleges must ensure that students know about off-campus resources and help them seamlessly switch from on-campus support to off-campus help. Running awareness campaigns and teaming up with local services can ensure students know where to turn when they need help. If your college is lacking in this department, this can be a great way to get involved and be part of a solution.

Off-Campus Mental Health Resources for Students

  • The Mental Health Coalition: This clearinghouse of resources features everything from BIPOC Mental Health Resources to Crisis Support, to Grief Services and beyond. For immediate support 24/7, reach out to Crisis Text Line by texting COALITION to 741741
  • ADAA’s Free Peer-to-Peer Online Community: This free community is a safe space for those 16 years of age and older affected by anxiety and depression to talk to others who truly understand. Reach out online to get started.
  • NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness): This grassroots organization is dedicated to improving the lives of people affected by mental illness. NAMI chapters are located around the country.
An infographic displaying crisis hotlines for students experiencing debilitating homesickness in college.
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