Advice for Incoming College Freshmen: How to Deal with Homesickness

Many students can’t wait to move into their dorms, immerse themselves in independent college life, and get started on the next leg of their life journey. Some are ecstatic to be out of the hometown they’ve been in their whole life, others are eager to explore new places. Some, of course, might be a little nervous about this new venture called college.

Whether you’re eager or timid, one thing is for sure: At some point, you’re going to experience homesickness. Some of you might have read that and just chuckled thinking “Not me” see if you’re chuckling in a couple of weeks when you have to do your own laundry and haven’t eaten “real” meals for a long time.

The point is, homesickness is a feeling that pretty much every student gets. Freshman year is a big adjustment, after all, and it’s likely the first time you’ve ever been away from home for an extended period of time. When the shiny newness of college-life starts to wear off as the semester gets underway, you might find yourself missing home.

Luckily, there are ways to combat homesickness–or at least lessen it somewhat. Here are some tips and tricks to dealing with homesickness freshman year.

Call Home

Student holding a cellphone to their ear.

Flickr user uncoolbob

Make like ET and “phone home.” Many might think that taking time to call parents, siblings, or even grandparents is “uncool” but in reality even just talking to family and friends back home can ease the transition somewhat. You may not be living in your old hometown anymore, but that doesn’t mean the people there are out of your life for good. You’ve still got connections, so keep in touch with them! They’ll be eager to hear from you.

If possible, try to set up a schedule or a general plan. Call three times a week. Every weekend. Heck, I knew people who called home at least once a day just to check in and say hi. You don’t always have to talk about monumental life events, even just chatting about the recent Game of Thrones episode can be good. Get that conversation going.

Skype or FaceTime

We live in an age of technological wonder. Not too long ago cell phones weren’t even a thing–now we’ve got mobile phones and personal computers to boot. Put that tech to good use and have a Skype session with your parents or friends. Seeing faces and being able to react in real-time has a more personable touch than just talking over the phone.

Like with the phone calls, try to set up a schedule if possible. Time can be a precious commodity in college, but making the effort to sit down and visit with people back home can be a great way to ease homesickness and stress. It’s like a weight off your shoulders. And you get updated on anything going on back home or with the people in your life that you no longer see on a day-to-day basis.

Visit

Red brick house with a car parked outside.

Flickr user Bill Benzon

This next tip might be easier for some than others. If you’re an in-state student, you might be able to head back home for a weekend visit. Even those who are a few states over from where they grew up, a three-day weekend road trip (or bus trip, if you don’t have a car of your own) can do wonders. There’s nothing quite like being back home, and nostalgia will fill you up if you haven’t been there in a while.

For those who go to college across the country, visiting home might be tricky. Still, there will be opportunities. Winter and Spring breaks are meant for student relaxation after midterms and long semesters–use the time to go home and unwind. Mom and Dad might take care of laundry and food (a home-cooked meal will taste so good you might just cry) because they’ll be so happy to see you again.

Have Parents / Friends Visit

Colleges will often host a “Parent’s Weekend” where after a few weeks or a couple of months into the academic year where parents trek up to the school and visit their students. Phone calls and Skyping are great, but being able to talk in person is the best feeling. After all those bear-hugs, they might take you out to lunch or dinner (enjoy these treats of real food, because as much as you try to avoid eating nothing but Ramen and Easy-Mac, the college diet tends not to be super great).

Another great way to combat homesickness is to have a friend visit. They could stay for a weekend or even just for a day, but catching up with buddies is a lot of fun and a lot of relief. If they’re still in high school, you can spin it as an “unofficial college visit” and show them around town. Or if they attend a rival school, they could visit during the Big Game and offer some playful competition and smack-talk. Either way, double-check with your college’s visitor policies and your roommate before inviting them to stay the night.

Home Care Packages

A box filled with school supplies and snacks.

Flickr user Allyson Boggess

There’s nothing quite like receiving something in the mail. Getting a home-care package is basically like getting a Christmas gift. Even if your parents just sent over a package of new socks or a couple of study snacks, it’s a package from home, often complete with a little hand-written note.

Colleges often have pre-packed goodie packages too, that parents can purchase and have sent to their student–these can include a bunch of junk-food snacks, pencils, pens, erasers, coupons to local stores, and even small toys.

Sooner or later, you’ll end up missing home (even if you were super eager to get out of there in the first place. In fact, I got super homesick despite A) Rooming with my best friend from high school B) Having my parents come up for every home football game C) Having lots of friends from high school attend my college and D) Home being less than two hours away.

Homesickness is a fact of college life. It’s a big transition period. But we know you can handle it. Use these tips to keep home a little closer in your heart.

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