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Tips for dealing with homesickness in college from a student who’s been through it

Branching out and making friends is key to overcoming homesickness and finding a community.

Do you find yourself calling home every night, rethinking your decision to move away for college? Maybe you miss your old friends, or you’re having an especially hard week at school and feel overwhelmed without your parents. 

Homesickness is a common experience

Although you may feel alone in the experience, feeling homesick is more common than you think. A 2016 UCLA study found that almost three-quarters of first-year college students “occasionally” or “frequently” felt homesick, leading to increased isolation and loneliness. 

It was difficult to comprehend that my outgoing and secure friends were unhappy and missing home. Some people are better at concealing their feelings and emotions than others. I’m an introvert who dislikes showing negative emotions, so I fell into this category. 

Although I am entering my third year of college, I still feel homesick from time to time. I’ve learned that certain events trigger the feeling. For example, when my college friends drive home for a weekend. Or when my high school friends meet up for brunch and post pictures on their Snapchat stories. These scenarios used to leave me feeling empty and withdrawn, but I’ve learned to overcome them by keeping myself busy and working through the feelings. 

Get involved on campus to fight isolation

Joining organizations, clubs or intramural teams is a quick way to find friends and join a community. I understand it can be difficult and uncomfortable to put yourself out there but do it for the plot. Think back to kindergarten when you could be best friends with anyone you wanted because you were unapologetically yourself. Embrace that same energy in college and take risks. 

Once I started branching out of my athletic bubble by attending events, joining organizations and working for the university, I instantly felt more connected to the school and the Pacific community. 

Establish a routine

You can improve your mental and physical health by establishing a routine. Routines create structure, which is beneficial for first-year college students living away from home. When events are repetitive and predictable, you don’t have to worry about what to do next.   

During my first year, having a strict routine with volleyball practices, class and study hours helped me adapt to life on my own. It helped alleviate some of the stress and anxiety associated with new environments. There was always somewhere to be and things to do, and I was too busy to think about missing home.  

Use support systems to combat homesickness

You’re going to have rough days; it’s inevitable. Before panicking and making rash decisions, take a few deep breaths and figure out what you need in the situation. Maybe you need someone to vent to, or you need to take the night off from all your responsibilities.    

There are many resources at Pacific that can help you cope with homesickness. Talk to your roommate or reach out to your RA, who has already been through the transition to college. I found comfort in talking to my friends who were in similar situations and couldn’t just drive home. Knowing that I wasn’t the only one experiencing homesickness, made me feel less alone. 

If you need more assistance, reach out to student support resources like CAPS, Care Managers and Student Life. You can make a CAPS appointment online or contact them by calling their front desk at 209.946.2315 x2.  

Find a support system that will be there for you through the highs and lows. Recognize and tackle your homesickness as soon as possible. You will have an easier transition to college and flourish in your newfound independence! 

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