You’ve got all your stuff packed. You’ve contacted your dormitory roommate. You’ve had one last going-away bash with your high school friends. Now you’re chomping at the bit to pack the car, put it in drive, and head off to college! (And who wouldn’t be? Honestly, I’m a little jealous myself.)
Good for you! But are you prepared to deal with homesickness?
Homesickness? you say. Are you kidding me? I can’t wait to get outta here!
Yeah. I felt the same way. Then, during my first few days in college, I wrote this in my journal:
“I hate this place. I can’t imagine ever being friends with any of these people. They don’t understand me at all.”
I was depressed. I was lonely. I missed my old friends and my old surroundings.
I was homesick.
Homesickness is a very common and very normal feeling for college freshmen. After all, you’ve probably spent your whole life in the same place, living in the same room, being friends with the same people. Now you arrive at college and everything is different: your room, the people, the food, etc. Everything. It can be a lot to handle all at once.
The good thing is homesickness doesn’t last forever. Plus, there are things you can do right from the start to get over it and begin feeling comfortable in your new surroundings.
Get Involved Early On
When you’re feeling down, it can be easy to hide away in your dorm room or disappear somewhere on campus where you can be alone. But this will only make you feel worse. The best thing to do is to get involved right away by taking part in everything your school has to offer. Fortunately most colleges have a number of activities lined up to keep you busy right from the start. So don’t alienate yourself; dive in and get active and you’ll be feeling better in no time!
Explore Your Campus
You probably got a good tour of campus before you arrived, just so you’d know where your classes would be held and where to get something to eat. But your campus has so much more to see that wasn’t on the tour. Grab one of your new friends and set out to explore your campus and see what you can discover. If you see an upperclassman, ask him/her about some of the not-so-well-known spots to check out. When you start to feel more connected to your campus, you’ll start to feel like this is your second home—which it will be for the next four years.
Phone (or Skype) a Friend
This one’s a no-brainer. If you’re feeling low and longing to talk with someone who really knows you, just pick up the phone or jump on a video chat and reconnect with an old friend. More than likely you have more than a few friends who are at college too and are in the same boat. Reach out to them and let them know how you’re feeling. I’ll bet you that, more than likely, they’re feeling the same way. Talking it out with a trusted friend can do wonders for your mental well-being.
Have An Open-Door Policy
When you’re feeling out of sorts in a strange place, it can be tempting to shut yourself off from the world and hide in your room. This will only exacerbate the situation. Instead, practice an open-door policy. Leave your dorm room door wide open when you’re there to show that you’re open to meeting new people. It’s a great way to keep in touch with your hall mates and start to build friendships that could last a lifetime.
Hang In There
During that first week of college, all I wanted was to pack up and go back home to my old life—the life I had grown accustomed to. But I didn’t. And you know what? It wasn’t long before I started getting used to the new faces around me. In fact, by the second week I had made some strong connections that would end up evolving into lasting friendships that continue on to this day. In fact, one of my freshman hall roommates ended up being my best man in my wedding!
So if you’re feeling down during your first couple weeks of school, just hang in there—things will get better. I promise. ~