Heading off to college is a time of mixed emotions. You’re likely to be excited about starting this next chapter of your life, but you’ll also miss the family and friends you’re leaving behind. This often leads to homesickness — and it can hit you unexpectedly. Luckily, there are several things you can do to cope.
1. Recognize That You’re Feeling Homesick
The first step is to recognize that what you’re experiencing is homesickness. It may manifest itself as grief or feelings of loss — after all, you’ve lost your sense of belonging, familiar places and people, and the comfort that comes from having a regular routine. Although you may not realize it, you’ll be craving stability, predictability, and consistency. For this reason, homesickness may strike particularly hard at certain times of the day, such as when you’re usually engaged in a particular activity.
The good news is that homesickness is not a clinical diagnosis. It tends to be short lived — and it’s within your power to overcome it.
2. Start New Rituals
To regain a sense of security and regularity, it helps to begin establishing new routines. You can do these routines alone or with friends, but they should start almost as soon as you wake up and end right before you go to bed. If there are certain times of the year when you find that homesickness returns (such as around a particular holiday), create new traditions or share ones from home with your roommates.
3. Prepare Your Favourite Meals
It’s comforting to eat meals like those you often have with your family. Ask your parents for recipes and learn to prepare these dishes yourself. Cooking will be a useful skill to have all your life, as you’ll be able to whip up your favourite foods whenever you’re feeling low.
4. Explore Your Surroundings
Making your new home familiar will also help reduce homesickness. Learn where to find various places on campus and search for interesting spots around your college town, such as parks, coffee shops, and hiking trails.
5. Chat with Friends and Family
Arrange to have regular calls with friends from your hometown and family members. Friends who are attending other universities will also be feeling homesick, meaning they’ll benefit from a chat just as much as you.
6. Make New Friends
Try to resist the urge to rely heavily on people back home, though — it’s also important to start making new friends. Attend events, join clubs, and volunteer to expand your social circle and meet people with similar interests.
7. Talk About Your Feelings
Since your friends are likely going through the same, don’t be afraid to talk about your homesickness. You may also have siblings who have already been through the experience who can give you advice about what worked for them.
8. Reach Out for Support
If homesickness causes your anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues to worsen, reach out for support from a professional. Your college likely has counselling services available to students.
You’ll suffer less from homesickness if you find an apartment that you love. Most people find it uncomfortable living on campus due to the limited privacy and cramped space, but having your own room in student housing can lead to a great college experience. An alternative to Niagara College residence is Foundry Lofts. You’ll be able to meet and hang out with other students in places like the games room, movie theatre, and fireside lounge or you can relax on your own in your spacious bedroom and living room. Contact us to join the waitlist.