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Your Home Away from Home: When Homesickness Strikes

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Dec. 02, 2014

My first few weeks of college were so full of fun events and new faces that I never really had time to think about home. I’d call my parents weekly to tell them how much fun I was having, and I tried my best to stay in touch with a few high school friends. But I wouldn’t say I missed home for most of that semester – there was so much going on with classes and friends that home wasn’t on my agenda.

When I returned to campus from Thanksgiving break, I realized how much I missed about being home. Mom’s traditional cooking. Playing our Wii with my brother. Going to the beach with high school friends. My wonderful bedroom mattress. Basically, the feeling of normalcy. It’s amazing how just a few weeks at college could make me put all these nostalgic thoughts on the back shelf of my mind. So when I returned campus, an unfamiliar feeling filled my mind.

Homesickness. It’s often difficult to discuss, because we think we’re the only ones feeling it. I remember looking at all my happy friends the week after I returned from break, wondering how they could be so dang joyful. I’ve learned since then that I was NEVER alone in my feelings. Some people are just very good at hiding homesickness, because it’s uncomfortable admitting these feelings.

So if you’re like me, you may be feeling homesickness mounting at this point in the semester. Or maybe you’ve been battling homesickness since move-in day. I want to reassure you that things DO get better, and every break becomes easier. It’s all just a learning and transitional experience that takes time to adapt. Here are a few things to think about:

Who/what is your home on campus? My home bases are my church community and my awesome residence hall coworkers. It’s important to find a friend circle or group that can give you a sense of regularity and normality. Your college schedule is busy and ever-changing. Think about the people you’ve met or the groups you’re involved in. Who makes you feel at home? I enjoy reflecting on those thoughts of “homeliness” because it really makes me see my support system on campus.

How often do you talk to your folks? I’m one of the odd, poorly-communicative children who actually grew closer to my parents after moving out. I would always make time to call weekly and occasionally more than that, when I felt like I had a lot going on. My parents never got tired of hearing from me, and it actually improved our communication. Most of all, it gave me some comfort and regularity to have my home just a phone call away, and the homesickness quickly became manageable.

How involved are you? It’s a balancing act to manage classes and activities, but I often find that my homesick feelings start compounding if I’m bored or have too much idle time. College is the best time to try new activities or pursue new hobbies, or just go out and meet new folks. So if you miss your home because you’ve got a lot of time to think about home, consider finding a new fun thing to do.

Remember that you’re not alone when you are missing home. Nearly every college student, of every kind of background, goes through these feelings. By pursuing sincere friendships, fun experiences, and still communicating well with Mom and Dad, I have managed to make my college residence a second home.