As a college student, it is normal to be homesick! The adjustment and transition to college is both exciting and anxiety provoking. Homesickness is a yearning for and a grieving over the loss of what is familiar and secure. It is a loss of people—family and friends—and a loss of places and routines that are familiar. Homesickness is the realization that life back at home continues on without you. The good news is that homesickness is normal and it does go away…eventually.
The main difference between depression and homesickness is that depression sufferers find both college and home awful, whereas with homesickness, college can feel awful while home may be seen with rose-colored glasses.
Some symptoms of homesickness include:
- Preoccupation with home-focused thoughts
- Depressed feelings
- Obsessive thoughts
- Minor physical ailments
Some common thoughts and anxieties are:
- How do I fit in?
- Others seem to be managing fine.
- I miss home.
- I miss my family, pets, friends, bedroom, etc.
- I am alone.
- Will I make friends?
The timing of homesickness can be:
- Several weeks before leaving home
- The first few weeks of school
- After the first few weeks of school
- Later in the academic year
- After the holiday break
- At the start of the second academic year
You might feel more homesick if:
- There is a greater distance from home
- You have a sense of anticlimax at finally arriving at the university after working toward it for so long
- The decision to come to the university was not entirely your choice
- Your expectations about the university are not being met
- Your work load is high, and you have no control over your work load
- Family members at home are not well and happy
- There is a contrast in lifestyle with roommates or others
Here are some things to do that may help with homesickness:
- Accept that things will be different.
- Bring a piece of home, like familiar things and favorite music.
- Focus on what you are gaining.
- Know that you are not alone—other people feel this way, too.
- Keep in touch; it is OK to call home.
- Plan a visit.
- Talk about your feelings.
- Talk with someone—friends or tutor, supervisor, chaplain, nurse, counselor, or RA.
- Encourage friends and family to come visit you.
- Allow yourself to feel sad and homesick, at least for a little while.
- You are allowed to have fun and enjoy your new setting—it is not disloyal to those you miss.
- Establish a realistic balance between work and leisure.
- Get enough sleep.
- Eat appropriately.
- Make contacts and friends through shared activities, sports, clubs, and societies. Find something that interests you.
- Give yourself time to adjust.
- Do not rush into any major decisions about staying or leaving.
- Seek advice.
- Introduce yourself to others.
- Establish a routine; arrange for regular study time.
- Make plans to go out and try new things.
- Arrange to meet someone for lunch and/or dinner.
- Take one day at a time. Today is the only day you need to cope with now.
- Create a study group.
- Do not give up the things you love to do, like a hobby, sport, exercise, or even reading (other than a textbook). Make time for things you enjoy.
- Explore the town with someone.
- Take a walk/get some exercise.
- Recognize that you are taking positive risks.
- Leave your door open when you are in your room.
- Get out in the hall and meet someone.
- Volunteer for something.
- Set small realistic goals.
- Have a good cry.
- Build in time to relax.
- Avoid risky situations.
- Tackle minor problems as they come up.
- Set up a counseling appointment and talk to someone.
- Pray for God to guide and comfort you.
If you know a college student who is struggling with homesickness, many colleges have a counselor on campus or a nearby pastor. Our counselors at Christian Family Solutions also have experience in helping college students and their families through challenging life transitions.
To find a clinic location near you or inquire about our online counseling services through our Member Assistance Program or via video through our telehealth program, please call 800-438-1772. You can also click here to request an appointment.