If going to college is your first experience of leaving home, it can be a daunting experience – even the most outgoing of students will worry a little bit about making new friends and fitting in. Most students will settle in fairly quickly, but there are always those who will struggle to get used to their new situation and will feel homesick. If left to fester, it can have serious implications for your enjoyment of your first semester. Fortunately, there are a number of ways that you can deal with homesickness as a college freshman.
Involve yourself in freshman activities
If you arrive at college and spend your first few days hiding in your room, you are bound to be lonely and start missing home. There will be plenty of activities going on during the first week, so go along to them, even if you are alone when you do so. It may seem that everyone else is with someone, but there are bound to be some people who are in the same boat as you. Of course, if you stare at the ground, don’t speak to anyone and don’t join in, you aren’t going to get very far, but a little bit of effort and you should immediately feel better.
It can take time to make good friends when you go to college. You may well find that the people you meet in your first week are replaced by others with whom you have more in common. However, you have to start somewhere, so talk to as many people as you can. If you share a dorm, then this is a great place to start, or knock on the door of your neighbour and introduce yourself. When you go to lectures, sit next to people and ask them about themselves. Don’t worry about making a fool of yourself.
Link up with former classmates
If you know you have former school classmates at your college, it is worth meeting up with them, even if you don’t particularly get on. If you’re all feeling homesick, it may help you to talk to people with whom you have shared memories. However, don’t be tempted to start hanging around with them if you get the feeling you are not wanted – that could make you feel even lonelier. Instead, use the opportunity to spread your wings and meet other people through them.
Build a support network
The first few weeks of college can seem unbearable if you are homesick. However, there are options to consider if the situation becomes so bad that you start considering leaving college. Talk to people about how you are feeling; you may well find that some of the new people you have met are having similar problems. Alternatively, there is almost certainly a counsellor or tutor to whom you have been linked. Go to them and explain how you are feeling; they may have some useful tips, or can introduce you to people in a similar situation.
Join a club (or two)
There will be plenty of opportunities to join a club or society in your first weeks in college. You should try and find something in which you are genuinely interested, but the key thing is to get together with a group of people and make some new friends. Sports are the obvious choice, but if you’re not a sporty person, there are bound to be plenty of other options. If nothing else, make the effort to learn something new – you won’t know if you enjoy it until you try.
Find a job
Unless you’re lucky enough to have enough funding to get through college without having to work, you will probably need to find a job of some kind. Try and sort this out as early in the semester as you can. It will give you something to occupy your time and you will have the added advantage of meeting a different group of people, hopefully including some other students. The busier you are, the less likely you are to be homesick and, even better, you won’t have the added worry of your finances.
Look after your health
When you feel homesick, looking after your health is not likely to be at the top of your list of priorities. However, if you don’t eat properly and aren’t sleeping, your problems will seem even more exaggerated than they already are. When you feel particularly low, go out for a walk, or go and find someone to talk to. Don’t be tempted to turn to drink or drugs in order to make yourself feel better; it may work in the initial stages, but you will feel even worse the next day.
When you feel homesick, you may feel as though you will never become accustomed to college, but you will eventually. You just need to ride out the hard times and meet as many new people as you can. In time, you will forget that you ever felt homesick.