Perhaps your child has always been a "homebody" so it's no surprise that they may need some support in managing the homesickness they experience during that first semester of their first year away at college. But even outgoing students are sometimes surprised when a bout of homesickness hits. As students make new friends and become more familiar with the day to day routine of being at college, college begins to feel much more like home, and gradually homesickness fades. However, sometimes students need some additional help. If you are concerned that your student's homesickness seems especially difficult or is not improving after a reasonable period of time, you can encourage him or her to speak to their Resident Assistant (RA) or the Resident Director (RD) of their dorm. Also, our Engle Center counselors are experienced in helping students understand and manage their homesickness and are available to provide your student with the support they need.
There are also some "self-help" strategies your student can use to them better manage their homesickness. Here are some tips you can share with your student from Susan Fee at My Roommate is Driving Me Crazy:
Whether you're a freshman or a senior, studying abroad or going to college in your hometown – it's natural to have a period of adjustment when you leave home. Experiencing new things and meeting different people can be exciting and stressful at the same time. Sometimes, it can make you feel a deep desire to return to the people and situations you know best.
The good news is that homesickness usually goes away eventually. As you gradually get used to your new surroundings, you'll grow more comfortable. You'll also gain a sense of confidence and independence by knowing that you can learn to adjust.
Here are some tips to help ease your transition:
Accept that things will be different, but different isn't bad or wrong. Part of maturing is learning to be flexible in different situations, so this is all part of the process of preparing you for a fantastic future.
Bring a piece of home. Pack special items that remind you of home and give you comfort like your pillow, stuffed animals, pictures, posters, music, and specialty food items.
Focus on what you're gaining. Instead of thinking about everything you're missing, focus on what you're gaining. Think about all the new experiences you can share with friends and family when you return.
Know that you're not alone. Everyone who is new is in the same boat, so find a buddy to go exploring. Walk around and learn the campus and city. The more familiar you become with your new surroundings, the more your feelings of homesickness will fade.
Keep in touch. You're never more than a call or click away from friends and family. Make an effort to explore and learn new things about your environment so you can share your experiences with them.
Get involved. Join a club, study group, or find a part-time job that will help get you involved with other people. Knowing that you will see the same faces and interact on a regular schedule helps a lot.
Plan a visit. Invite friends and family to visit you and act as their tour guide. It also helps to schedule a trip back home, but avoid going home every weekend. You'll gain more confidence by sticking it out and finding new things to do.
Talk about your feelings. Homesickness is natural. It doesn't mean you are weak, only that you have experienced love and security in your home life – and that's a good thing! If you find you are having trouble coping, talk to a friend, roommate, RA, or a campus counselor.
It's important to acknowledge your feelings rather than keep them inside. You are definitely not the first student to experience homesickness, and by sharing what you're going through with others, you'll find even more ways to start to adjust.