Homesickness is real, and it can hit you hard.
Are you finding yourself in teary-eyed conversations with your family, or texting your best friend back home every chance you get? Staying up late to scroll through last summer’s photos, or counting down the days to your next visit? These can all be ways that feeling homesick can manifest. And they can make you feel sad, frustrated and lonely.
That can mean having trouble connecting with your new life and opportunities while away at school.
If you’re having a hard time with these feelings, here are some tips to help you move forward.
- Give yourself time to adjust. It’s normal to have a lot of mixed feelings when you leave home for an extended period. You’re away from your comfortable routines and maybe you’re feeling scared or intimidated. You haven’t developed familiarity with your new situation.
Remind yourself these feelings are temporary. They will pass.
- Not now, Mom. Set some boundaries with family and loved ones. If you’re speaking every day and tearing up whenever they say, “I miss you”, there’s nothing wrong with asking for some space —and asking them to stop saying it. You know. Assure them the feeling is mutual and you don’t need to hear it every time.
- Bring self-care into your new routines. Going to the gym, for a run, or joining a recreational team will help you feel better physically as well as give you new opportunities to meet people. If you can, make yourself a good home-cooked meal at least once a week, and hey – maybe invite some new friends to hold a potluck.
If you’re really having a rough day, give yourself a personal evening, or even a whole day. Stay in PJs and enjoy some light TV, read a book for pleasure, or just give yourself time to feel sad.
- Socialize! This may sound daunting, it’s true. But remember everyone around you is experiencing homesickness, just to different degrees. If it seems like everyone has found friends already, it’s not true.
Ask if you can join in. Playing frisbee, with a study group, or in a campus club. Start up conversations in the library, coffee shop or in a common room.
- Remember why you’re away from home. If you’re missing everything back home and feeling overwhelmed, just remember why you’re away. You came to school with a goal, so focus on that goal. Tape a note to your mirror reminding you of something you are grateful for. Remember that not everyone has the opportunity you have right now.
- Try something new. Is there something new you’ve always wanted to do? Take up knitting, get a tattoo, try different foods, learn to play guitar – while you’re away at school is a great time to make a new experience familiar or learn a new hobby. And it’s likely you’ll find friends who share similar interests on campus.
- Reach out if you need to. Feeling homesick is most likely temporary, and not usually a major mental health issue to worry about. If you happen to experience homesickness every year, remind yourself that being away at school is temporary. Think beyond this moment.
But if feelings of being disconnected or isolated aren’t going away after several weeks, there’s a possibility this could lead to depression or anxiety. It can help to reach out to on-campus counselling and support services to talk with someone. They’re experienced, and can recommend more ways to feel at home in your new surroundings.