Being in a college is like being in a different world where you are completely on your own. Not everyone is comfortable or ready to enter that world and can feel intense moments of anxiety as a result. It is important not to let your feelings of homesick stay with you and to use college as an opportunity for growth and excitement.
Most people go away to university during their freshman year whether they are in the same state or go out of the state or country for school. Most freshman are expected to live on campus their first year so that they can get used to exploring their campus, classes, activities, and engage in freshman orientation mixers to better meet new people. Maybe you thought that you were ready to leave home because you liked the idea of having freedom away from your parents, going to parties, no curfews, and making your own decisions. Until you actually move away from home into your new dorm, you realize that your new life is on campus and you have to leave your old life at home behind. According to the 2012 Your First College Year Survey, 66% of freshman feel lonely or homesick. If your homesickness becomes more intense, it can result in having obsessive thoughts of your home, crying at random times, avoiding going to class, avoiding making new friends, and getting your degree.
The first step of overcoming your homesickness is acknowledging it. You need to tell yourself that by avoiding school, it can result in not getting a degree or meeting new people. The people you left behind at home did not want you to go away to school just to be miserable but would want you to be happy in your new surroundings. Know that feeling homesick is normal. Being at home is normal and comfortable and it is what you are used to. College is a new change and you may be scared that if you do not enjoy it, you are stuck where you are having to deal with it all. College does not have to be as stressful as you make it but can be fun. If a place seems new to you, it is because you allowed it to stay new. Use the first few weeks to get used to your surroundings. Walk around either by yourself or with your friends. Find out where your classes are, the cafeteria, good places to study other than the library, the gym, cafes to get a coffee at, and quiet spots to visit when you need a breather.
Remember that college is not just for going to class but there are a number of activities that you can take part in that will help you grow as a person. If you join a student organization, you will be around those that you share something in common with depending on the club. Each new club you join will give you the chance to make new friends. Get involved in campus politics, join a sports team, volunteer, or join Greek life. By sitting in sadness in your dorm, you are wallowing in your sadness and it will not get better if you dwell on it. Get active in your schedule and fill every day with fun activities to look forward to. You should bring items from home with you to help you feel more like you are in your hometown. If you lived near the beach, you can bring with you sand or a sea shell that smells like the ocean. You can bring pictures of your family, friends, or pets as well as posters that you hung up in your bedroom you can bring with you to college.
Being away from home will make you want to call your family and friends every single day. While it is important to stay in touch with the people you love, you also need to remember why you are in college in the first place and to not lose sight of your goals on campus. You can try speaking to your friends and family once a day to start off at the end of the day but try to wean off communication. You can try to call your loved ones once a week or trying casually texting them. Once you are most used to life on campus, you will be able to just communicate with your friends and family when something important happens to you on campus because you will be so busy with classes and new friends.
Do not be afraid to talk to your new friends about how homesick you are. They might have been able to relate to this on some level whether it was a time they went to sleepaway camp, went out of state to visit relatives, or had to move away and go to a new school themselves. Your new friends can provide you with a good sense of comfort and find ways to make you feel more at home. You can also join a support group such as one for transfer students so you can be around those going through the same struggles and emotions as you and find solutions to those issues as well. If these symptoms of anxiety last more than six weeks, it is important to see a professional psychologist on campus to help you adjust more to campus life.
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