How to Deal With Homesickness At College

You’re on your own for college, and whether it’s for the first time or not, you might be feeling a little homesick.

The new semester is almost here, which means moving into a dorm or apartment and spending more time by yourself. For those who aren’t living at home for school, you might feel a bit nervous (which is totally normal). But when that feeling doesn’t go away, homesickness can take root.

If you’re wondering how to combat homesickness while you’re in college, this guide is for you. From homesick symptoms to watch out for to how to fix it, we’ve got you covered. Here’s all the tips for combating homesickness, as told by Bo Burnham’s Inside.

“Homesick” Meaning

By definition, homesickness is longing for family and, obviously, home! It’s also usually marked by being unhappy for a longer period of time due to being away from home. So if you get a twinge of sadness being away from home for a few days, it’s probably not homesickness.

Being homesick can apply to both places and people. You might feel homesick because you miss your family, but you can also be homesick by missing your hometown. The feeling is similar to depression due to a longing for something familiar.

Homesick Symptoms

If you think you might be feeling homesick, there are some symptoms to look out for to help you identify it:

  • Change in sleeping patterns
  • Feeling angry, nervous, sad, or even nauseous
  • Feelings of isolation or loneliness
  • Withdrawing from people
  • Feeling overwhelmed, insecure, anxious, or panicked
  • Feelings of low-self esteem or self-worth
  • Headaches
  • Lack of appetite or concentration

As you can see, most of the symptoms of homesickness line up pretty well with symptoms of depression.

It’s important to speak to a mental health professional if you feel like you’re experiencing feelings of homesickness or depression. Call 1-800-622-HELP (4357). Click here for SAMHSA’s full list of online resources for more information.

Being Homesick at College

Homesickness is a common thing to feel while you’re in college, especially if you’re a freshman. But even if you’re a senior going into your last year, you can totally still feel homesick. Don’t beat yourself up about it if those feelings start to crop up.

According to recent studies, 30% of students feel some kind of homesickness during the course of their college career, with some estimates being as high as 70%.

The same study also noted that the duration and severity of homesickness in college can even affect graduation rates and even future employment opportunities. Clearly, getting a handle on homesickness while in college sooner rather than later is important.

Homesick College Freshmen

The same studies estimated that a whopping 70% of college freshmen experience severe homesickness. Clearly, the first year of college can be a somewhat traumatic time.

Thankfully, most colleges offer overwhelming support and opportunities for students to adjust to their new surroundings. For freshmen, there will likely be plenty of events and activities for you to participate in, allowing you to meet new people and feel more comfortable. Be sure to check your school’s calendar to see what’s going on and when.

Living alone for the first time is a huge milestone in your life, but it can definitely take some time to get used to it. Don’t freak out if it takes you longer than normal to feel at home while at school. It’s all part of the process.

What to Say to Someone Who is Homesick at College

If one of your friends comes to you and tells you that they’re feeling homesick, it’s important to know what to say.

First, acknowledge that their feelings are completely valid. Really listen to what they’re saying, and avoid interrupting too much. Some people just need someone to listen, not necessarily offer advice.

If your friend does want advice, try and offer support the best way you can. Maybe try and schedule a fun outing the two of you can participate in. Having something to look forward to while you’re at school can really help combat feelings of homesickness.

How Not to Be Homesick in College

If you find yourself feeling homesick while in college, use some of these tips to help combat those feelings of isolation and loneliness:

  • Reach out to others for support
  • Try your best to keep busy with school or on-campus activities
  • Give yourself a grace period to adjust to your new environment
  • Acknowledge that your feelings are normal and honor them
  • Keep in touch with friends and family to help with FOMO
  • Connect with peers while at school to create an additional support network

Are you a college freshman looking for advice for your first year of college? Check out our ultimate guide for first-year students.