No matter what people tell us, starting college may still feel like the most important decision we will ever make. We are left to make our own decisions and it is during these college years that we create the shell of our adult self before becoming one of the “grown-ups” when we leave. As if this doesn’t sound scary enough, it can be even worse when you have to do all of this alone, possibly in a completely new town, many miles, or oceans, away from home.
As a result it’s easy to feel homesick, especially at the beginning of the academic year, and there may be a desire to go back to our reassuring families in order to escape the responsibilities that we feel are too much for someone our age. Don’t worry, we have all been there and are here to help. Here are ten effective strategies on how to deal with homesickness and help you take the best out of this new experience!
1 Understand what you are feeling
Just one week ago you were so excited to be leaving, thinking about what a shining future you had ahead of you, what classes were going to be like, how many new friends you were going to make, and now that you have arrived, you feel homesick.
That’s fine. It’s completely normal. Sometimes you will miss your family a lot, even if you are supposed to be an adult now, and that is fine too. Breaking from a familiar environment and having to start again in a completely new one feels very much like having to build a fresh life from zero, which can be stressful. This is part of the experience too, allow yourself to feel it. Don’t repress your true feelings pretending that you are having the time of your life constantly – that expectation will make you feel even worse. Being emotionally vulnerable after quite a drastic change is absolutely human and you don’t have to feel guilty if you’d rather stay in bed than go out at night. Be kind to yourself and let things untangle in their own time.
2 Explore your surroundings
Whether or not you are living on campus, a good starting point when arriving somewhere new is familiarising yourself with the surroundings and the streets that you are going to cross in your daily life. The new place won’t seem a mysterious, dark jungle anymore, once you have explored it.
3 Keep yourself busy
It is common to overthink everything if you spend the majority of your time crawled up in bed watching Netflix in your own company. It is important that you establish a routine: go to college, join societies, meet people. Remember: the more time you spend on campus, the more opportunities you will find. You didn’t come all this way to be antisocial in your room, did you?
4 Make your new place your new home
This may sound like a cliché, but home is not a place, it’s a feeling. You could bring your favorite toy or pillow from when you were little, or even books and pictures of your family and friends. This can all help to make the new environment more familiar. Make the space your own and build a new family of people that will make you feel like college is your second home.
5 Make food from your home
Food is one of the biggest sources of homesickness – who doesn’t love a home-cooked meal instead of noodles and pizza? Now that you are forced to provide for yourself, you can take the chance to be creative, especially since you can cook exactly what you want.. Also, you can explore recipes that otherwise you would have never tried before! At least you can avoid those times when you would come home after a bad day to a meal that you hate for dinner!
6 Explore the new culture without forgetting your roots
In order to feel more at ease in a new setting, many people assimilate the locals’ habits and ways of living. This doesn’t mean that you need to erase your identity. In fact, the best part of growing up is getting to know the world around you, and in the light of what you see and what you experience, acquire consciousness of who you are and where you come from.
7 Focus on your new life and be positive
After settling in, you just have to focus on yourself and make the best out of your new life! Look ahead instead of looking back, devote all your energies to present activities. You will soon be carried away by it all and you will have little time to think about what you left behind.
8 Skyping home is good, but not too much
Remember that you are only at college, like many other people your age, not the North Pole! Your family knew this would happen and they will always be there for you. You can easily Skype them if you are missing their lovely faces, but the more you do it, the more homesick you grow. Staying for a long time in a place will put down roots, and with some time you’ll grow accustomed to and even fond of it.
9 Fear of missing out?
You may be following every step of your friends at home thanks to Instagram, and they may appear to be having the time of their lives without you. It is important to keep in mind that social media fuels unrealistic expectations, because no one really posts about negative things happening in their lives. Don’t worry, you are not missing out. Everyone else is doing their own thing and you should be too, after all you’re busy making all your new friends! Don’t forget that back home your friends used to be strangers too.
10 Be patient
Adjusting to a new place and schedule takes time. Building new relationships takes time. Don’t be too harsh on yourself, relax your expectations. Everything will take its natural course.