5 Ways to Handle Homesickness

Feeling homesick is one of the worst feelings in the world, but it’s something we don’t talk about a lot. As we get older, this feeling only grows. Once we graduate college, it’s time for the next step: where to live. This can be such a scary thing to think about and plan, but it’s also exciting. Moving back home can be difficult, but so can moving further away from your hometown and family. Sometimes all you want is to be close and be able to have a homecooked meal and other times the thought of living near your parents makes you feel like you’re stepping backward instead of forward. You want to feel free, but being around your parents constantly might not help with that. No matter how old you get, your parents will always be…parents, you know? They’ll always care and show you love, but sometimes they can care just a little too much. All of these conflicting and confusing feelings are signs of missing home. College can be rough financially, academically, and can take a huge toll on us mentally. It also flies by SO fast; I seriously still can’t believe I’m over halfway done with college. It’s not always easy to take the time to travel home, especially when a lot of us don’t have means of transportation to get home, so here are some ways that make homesickness easier to cope with.

This one’s a pretty obvious one, but it’s not always easy to do. I talk to my parents in our group chat pretty much every day, but I also have a little sister that doesn’t have a phone. She’s at the age where she’s growing up WAY too fast, and it seems like she grows a foot every time I see her. There are also grandparents who might not use their phones as much as your other friends and family. I think quick calls and checking in are very important. I used to try to do this weekly, but I haven’t been able to keep up with it recently. Find a schedule that works right for you and your loved one so that you have something to look forward to. If it becomes too much, then you can always reschedule. The workload for our classes and jobs always changes and your family and friends should be understanding. That five minute phone call can make a huge difference, and it gives me the motivation to start my week knowing that the people who make me feel at home are doing alright.

  • Make where you are feel like home
Candles And Flowers
Breanna Coon / Her Campus

I just got my first apartment this year, and honestly, my heart broke a little. It wasn’t anything like the pictures online or like the preview apartment they showed us. My roommate and I showed up and saw this HUGE, ugly orange wall. It was also way smaller than what we had seen before too. At first, we had no idea what to do, but we both brainstormed some ideas that would make our apartment cozier and less…orange. At home, my mom always had a lot of candles, and we were able to dim the lights to watch movies or binge-watch Gilmore Girls late at night (great show by the way, highly recommend). So, we decorated and would do activities that we would do at home. This made me feel a lot better, and it allowed us to get to know each other more. My roommate would also cook certain recipes that her grandma would make. Our homesickness helped us bond and grow more, and doing those activities together would help us cope with those feelings together rather than alone as well. Changing your living space to feel like home might not seem like a big deal, but it impacts my productivity and mental health a great amount.

  • Reflect on the good memories

Warning: this reflection tip might be a little dangerous, so use it with caution. If you’re sad, it could make you feel worse, but if you go into it with a positive outlook, it can really motivate you into growing and becoming something your family will be even more proud of. It’s also a good way to plan for activities you want to do with your family and friends in the future. Reflecting on advice that your friends and family have given you too can also help with tough situations that you might be in during that moment. Right now, for example, I feel like I’m falling behind in my classes, but then I remember that my dad would always say, “It’s okay to ask for help,” and that brings me the motivation and courage to go to my professor’s office hours. I also know that a lot of people in my family didn’t even go to college, so the fact that I’ve even made it this far should make all of us proud.

Pictures are definitely my personal favorite. I have a little area by my door where I have pictures of dogs, friends, and family from home that I can look at every day to be reminded of them. I absolutely love it. Just seeing their faces instantly makes me happier. Sometimes I zone out when I’m doing homework and I happen to glance over and then I’m like, “oh yeah, that was the morning of my sister’s first day of kindergarten.” She was super adorable, but it’s also sad because she started feeling homesick before she had even left. She didn’t know what school was going to be like, so it was scary for her. But my mom and I were there for her and we’re all still there for each other now, so that makes it my personal favorite knowing that I supported her during such an important moment, and it makes me feel better about not being able to go home as much as I want to. As of last night too, my parents also got Snapchat, and it is SO funny getting pictures and sending them to my parents just about random things I do every day. Those little updates have made a huge impact, and it’s been only twelve hours. The little things really add up.

Being away from what you know can sometimes make you forget who you really are. I struggled with this a lot my freshman year. I didn’t feel like myself because I didn’t have that support system at my beck and call like I normally would have. When I came to Illinois State and started getting to know people during orientation and welcome week, I figured out that I was pretty much the only person that wasn’t from the suburbs of Chicago. People would have conversations saying how they weren’t that far away from each other so they should hang out over break or talk about how their schools were rivals or share other commonalities. Meanwhile, I would just kind of sit back and listen feeling left out. I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere. Since then, I’ve learned to embrace where I’m from and who I am. You’ll find your people and you’ll have something in common with someone eventually. But if that’s hard to find, it’s okay to be different and talk about what makes you who you are. Finding a sense of belonging away from home can make you feel like you have another home. Now when I go home even just for a weekend, I get a little homesick about my college friends. It kind of evens itself out.

Homesickness is never fun, but it doesn’t last forever. These are just a few ways that you can help deal with this feeling, but there are a lot more. It’s not always a bad thing to miss home, and it’s something you shouldn’t be ashamed of. Everyone goes through it, and it’s better to have someone to go through the motions with. Being homesick can remind you of who you are and how you got to be at the spot you’re at currently. It can also be an excuse to talk to the people who are most important in your life. College can be overwhelming and time-consuming, but if you ever have any self-doubt or feel hopeless, your friends and family from home as well as your new college friends are also probably feeling the same way. You’re never alone, even when you feel like you are.

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