How to Deal With Homesickness in College: Freshman's Guide To Coping strategies (2023)

As a freshman, I was super excited to start college. But with the first few weeks of classes and my new independence came a wave of homesickness that I wasn’t expecting.

Suddenly, the freedom to make my own decisions was daunting instead of liberating and the newfound responsibility of managing my workload, social life, and health all at once left me feeling sad and overwhelmed.

How to Deal With Homesickness in College: Freshman's Guide To Coping strategies (1)

I had to learn the hard way that there’s no magical cure for homesickness. Calling home more often was only serving to make me feel more homesick – it was a constant reminder of what I had left behind.

I found solace in making little changes in my new living space – things like photos of my friends and family, and favorite places from back home, and playing my favorite music – all went a long way in helping me feel more settled.

I also found other activities to take my mind off of homesickness – things like joining a club or interacting with upperclassmen provided me with a distraction and soon enough, my feelings of homesickness subsided *eventually*. Instead of focusing on what I had left behind, I began to appreciate the new opportunities that college gave me and make the best out of every experience I had.

And while my homesickness is still something that pops up now and then, I’ve learned to cope with it better and be grateful for the things that I’ve gained since starting college.

What is homesickness all about?

Homesickness can be defined as an emotional response to being away from home. It’s a feeling of longing for your old life, for the comfort and security of being near the people, places, and things that are familiar to you.

How do you know if you’re feeling homesick?

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If you’re feeling homesick, chances are you already know it. While some university students may only feel a twinge of sadness that passes quickly, others may be overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety and in some cases – severe depression.

Recognizing the signs of homesickness is an important step towards managing it effectively and feeling better.

Some of the common signs and symptoms include difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, lack of motivation or energy, feelings of sadness and isolation, difficulty concentrating, and general malaise. It all adds up to a feeling of being out of place and longing for home.

It’s important to remember that feeling homesick in university is a normal experience and doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong. In fact, experiencing homesickness is perfectly normal and can be a sign that you’re adapting and adjusting to your new university life, and it is important to recognize that it won’t last forever.

(Video) How to Deal with Homesickness at University

Related: It’s Ok to be Selfish: How to Make Self-Care Your Top Priority in College

What Triggers (or causes) Homesickness in College students?

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Dealing with homesickness in college can be a challenge, especially when you go through triggers that take you right back to your old bedroom. Here are some of the most common ones that may send you into a spiral of nostalgia and longing:

  1. Loneliness– suddenly being surrounded by new people you may not know that well can be an intense feeling of loneliness
  2. Late nights– sleeping in an unfamiliar bed, without the same nighttime routine you had at home can make you feel isolated and make you feel homesick
  3. Being away from family– it’s natural to miss your parents, siblings and other close family members when you’re away
  4. Missing old friends– you might find yourself feeling a bit lost when your best friend isn’t around to talk to you
  5. New Surroundings & New environment– a new school, city or country can cause anxiety and unfamiliarity
  6. Missing home comforts– your own bed, the food your mom cooked, and the familiarity of home can easily be missed
  7. Boredom– when you don’t have a lot going on, it can be easy to feel homesick & isolated
  8. Seeing old photos and mementos– reminiscing can be a double-edged sword; it’s nice to remember the past but it can also make you miss home more
  9. Stress and worries– feelings of worry and stress can be amplified when you’re away from home, which can make homesickness worse.
  10. Free time– when you have too much spare time, it’s easier to think about the all the people and places you miss

Related: Say GoodBye to the Drama: How to Set Boundaries in College

How long does homesickness last for?

Homesickness can linger for as little as two days or a full year for some students. A recent study showed that an astounding 94% of college students experience homesickness during the first week away from home – highlighting just how difficult it is to overcome this common emotion.

Coping with homesickness: How do I stop feeling lonely?

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Well, first of all, take some deep breaths. Sometimes just shifting your focus from the homesickness & feelings of anxiety to something as simple as a few deep breaths can help.

Next, make sure you’re staying active. You don’t have to take on an intense training program, but even just going for a short walk or run will help to keep your mind off what you’re feeling. It can also make you feel like you’re accomplishing something, which can be really helpful.

Try to find something at your new location that reminds you of home and make it a point to go back and do that activity or visit that spot whenever you’re feeling homesick. It doesn’t have to be a big or grand thing either—it could be as simple as visiting a local cafe that has the same kind of coffee you drank at home.

Finally, make sure you’re staying connected with friends and family back home. Talking to them can be really helpful in making the homesickness a little more bearable. Plus, it’s always nice to catch up with people you care about and know that they are thinking about you too.

Related: Take a Deep Breath: Here’s How To Overcome College Stress and Anxiety

How to deal with homesickness: Tips & Strategies for College Students

It’s no surprise that homesickness is a common emotion for first year university students. With the transition from high school to college comes major changes; it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed and disconnected.

But the good news is that there are ways to beat homesickness and make your college experience a positive one.

(Video) How to get over college homesickness (from someone who was severely homesick)

Strategy 1: Create structure in your day with a routine

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Having a structure in your day can help create a feeling of normalcy and security that you may miss from home.

Wake up at the same time every day, plan out your meals, and designate time for studying, cleaning, and socializing. Having a routine can help you feel more grounded and provide relief from the waves of nostalgia and accompanied negative feelings.

Related: How to stay Organized in College: 9 Tips to Help You Conquer the Chaos

Strategy 2: Stay Connected with your support system at home

Just because you’re away from home doesn’t mean you can’t stay in touch with your family and friends.

Schedule FaceTime Sessions or make phone calls to home regularly to talk about your day and catch up with the people you miss. Hearing their familiar voices and hearing about what’s going on back home can make you feel more connected and less homesick.

Strategy 3: Sign up for extracurricular activities and join clubs & team-sports

One of the best things you can do to deal with homesickness is to get out there and make new friends. Sign up for an on-campus club or organization, or volunteer in the community.

When you make new connections and form relationships with other people, it will help give you a feeling of community and increase your sense of belonging.

Related: Dive into the Social Scene Already! (How to Make Friends in College)

Strategy 4: Make your dorm room feel like home

Bring pictures of family and friends, hang up artwork from home, or bring a special blanket from your childhood. Surrounding yourself with items that remind you of home can help to quell the feelings of homesickness.

Strategy 5: Get out and Explore Your New Town

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The best way to make your new place feel like home is to explore it. Check out the local restaurants, coffee shops, stores, and parks in the area and try to get a feel of the local culture. And if possible, try to make some new friends.

Take a bike ride down the river path or go for a walk around your college campus. Get to know the city and soon enough, it will start to feel like home. Plus, the more familiar you are with your new town, the less homesick you’ll be!

(Video) How to Deal with Homesickness in College | Freshman Survival Guide Day 21

Strategy 6: Embrace the little things

Remember that while there are some big changes and adjustments to college life, many of the small things can remain the same.

If you’re used to eating breakfast in bed, try making it a ritual for yourself in your dorm room. Or if you’re used to watching a certain show with your family at night, watch it on the same day & time in your dorm room.

These small things can make your college experience feel a bit more familiar and can provide some relief from missing home.

Strategy 7: Get out of your comfort zone

One of the best ways to deal with homesickness is to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try something new.

Take a risk and sign up for an activity that you’ve never done before. This can be anything from a cooking class to outdoor rock climbing, or even just trying a new food. This will help you create new memories and experiences. Which in turn can help to fill the feeling of void & depression that homesickness may bring

Related: Breaking Out of Your Shell: How to Overcome Shyness in College

Strategy 8: Find a Positive Outlet for Your Feelings

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Sometimes it can be hard to express all the emotions of being away from home. To cope in a healthy way, find an outlet for your feelings. Journaling, drawing, making music, or writing your thoughts down can be a great way to express yourself and process what you’re going through.

De-stressing activities such as meditation & exercise, or even talking to your friends can help to release some of the tension and homesickness.

Strategy 9: Home Awaits – Plan a visit home!

Once you’ve settled into your university routine, plan a visit home. It doesn’t have to be long, just a week filled with fun things is enough to get a taste of home and reconnect with your family and friends. Knowing you have something to look forward to can be a great motivator as well as a great way to combat homesickness.

Strategy 10: Talk to a Mental Health professional

If you’re having a hard time dealing with homesickness and the accompanied feelings of anxiety & depression, don’t hesitate to reach out for Mental health support. Most colleges and universities have counseling centers that are available to students at free of cost.

It’s important to remember that there is no shame in asking for help. A therapist can help you work through your emotions in a safe and supportive environment. They may be able to provide techniques or strategies on how to deal with homesickness to help you cope better with the situation.

(Video) How To Deal with Feeling Homesick (3 Simple Tips)

Mental health is incredibly important, and seeking assistance can make all the difference.

6 Things to Avoid When you’re feeling homesick

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1. Don’t stay in bed all day

You might want to curl up under your covers, but that won’t make the homesickness go away. Instead, get out and do something active – go for a walk or run around campus! You’ll feel so much better once you’ve started moving.

2. Don’t isolate yourself & wallow in nostalgia

Sure, it feels nice in the moment but if you’re constantly talking about how much you miss home, it’s only going to make things worse. Instead, try to focus on the positives of your new environment and move forward with you life! Reach out and get involved with activities on campus so you can get to know more new people.

3. Don’t immediately call home

It might be tempting to pick up the phone, but taking a few days to settle in and adjust before you make that call can be helpful.

4. Don’t overdo it

Trying to cram a bunch of activities in your first few weeks might seem like a good idea, but it can be overwhelming. Take the time & interest to get to know your new surroundings, and don’t forget to take breaks for self-care.

5. Don’t forget to eat healthy

Comfort food can be tempting when you’re homesick, but it won’t make the feeling go away. Eating nutritious meals and snacks will help you feel better in the long run.

6. Take your mental health seriously

If feelings of homesickness continue to persist, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Talk to friends, family, or even visit a therapist if necessary – it’s all part of taking care of yourself.


And that is all for now.

College is a big change and coping with homesickness can be difficult. But by taking the time to adjust, surrounding themselves with supportive people, and utilizing healthy techniques – college students can successfully transition and make the best of their new world.

“The only way to conquer homesickness is to become an explorer in your new environment. Be confident, take risks, and make the most of your college experience!”

FAQs

How do I cope with leaving home for college? ›

10 Tips For College Students Moving Out Of Home
  1. Prepare for Roommates. ...
  2. Decide Between a Housing or Apartment. ...
  3. Create A List. ...
  4. Purchase Moving Boxes. ...
  5. Skip Summer Class Unless Necessary. ...
  6. Meet Up with Close Friends. ...
  7. Get Around Your State as Much as Possible. ...
  8. Spend Quality Time with Family.

How can I help my struggling college freshman? ›

Here are my 5 tips that you can share with your student who is struggling with that one tough class.
  1. Talk to the Professor. UVicLibraries. ...
  2. Talk to an Academic Advisor. ...
  3. Seek Help at the Tutoring Center. ...
  4. Form a Study Group. ...
  5. Practice Better Time Management.

How can I help my college freshman adjust? ›

Rules For Helping Your College Student Adjust
  1. Rule #1: Avoid Asking Them If They are Homesick. ...
  2. Rule #2: Write (Even If They Don't Write Back) ...
  3. Rule #3: Ask Questions (But Not Too Many) ...
  4. Rule #4: Expect Change (But Not Too Much) ...
  5. Rule #5: Don't Worry (Too Much ) About Depressive Phone Calls or Letters.

How do college students get over missing homes? ›

Staying Connected to Home
  1. Talk to people at home via weekly phone calls. ...
  2. Plan a visit home so you'll have something to look forward to. ...
  3. Decorate your room with things that remind you of home. ...
  4. Acknowledge your feelings and allow yourself to experience them. ...
  5. Talk to a friend or family member about how you're feeling.

How can I help my freshman college student? ›

Helping freshmen succeed: Tips from college advisers
  1. Offer support, but don't solve their problems.
  2. Ask questions before giving advice.
  3. Give advice, then give space.
  4. Always listen to your gut.
  5. When should a parent step in?
Sep 11, 2017

How long does it take to get over being homesick? ›

For some, homesickness can pass fairly quickly, while for others it can take much longer. How long does homesickness last, in general? Studies have shown homesickness to last between 3 weeks to 1 year and 4 months.

Is it normal to be extremely homesick in college? ›

Getting homesick in college is a very normal response to a separation from home and family. Almost all new college students experience it in one way or another, and freshmen should know that it is normal to experience this feeling.

At what age do you stop getting homesick? ›

“These feelings of being homesick can start early and last throughout adulthood,” Dr. Claudia Luiz, PsyD, a psychoanalyst, tells Romper. Babies can start to show signs of separation anxiety at nine months, she explains, but there is no one specific age in which homesickness starts… or stops.

Is it normal to feel overwhelmed freshman year of college? ›

It is completely normal to feel lonely, maybe even depressed, and overwhelmed as you head back to school, but you don't have to sit in those feelings for too long,” said Parsons. “To ease the stress of heading to college, get familiar with the resources your campus has to offer and use them.”

What percentage of college students get homesick? ›

Homesickness is a common phenomenon for college students, especially among first year students. According to Hap.org, over 30 percent of college students experience some form of homesickness and around 70 percent of freshmen go through severe homesickness.

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