You step out of the car and see welcome banners fluttering in the hot August breeze. You register and get your schedule approved. Next, you move into your dorm room and get all set up. Finally, you hug your parents goodbye. That night, as you slide into bed, the full realization that you’ll be away from home for months sinks in.
What is this feeling? Homesickness. It’s a normal sensation every college student struggles with. It can be difficult, but here are some ways to cope with these feelings.
1. Explore your new surroundings
One of my favorite things to do once I arrive at a new place, especially if I’m going to be living there for a while, is to explore. Don’t stay in your room! That’ll only make you more homesick.
Start by exploring campus
Explore alternative routes to the dining common. Find shortcuts to your classes. Check out the comfy chairs in The Den. Look for those peaceful corners where you can disconnect from the daily grind of college life.
Explore the area around campus
Check out the nearby Starbucks on East North Street. Do some grocery shopping at BI-LO. Cross Wade Hampton and enjoy some hearty pancakes at IHOP. You’ll eventually get tired of being on campus, and when that time comes, you’ll need a list of go-to places to relax.
Visit downtown Greenville
Its artsy atmosphere and tree-lined avenues make for a refreshing late afternoon or evening stroll after classes or during the weekend. Falls Park on the Reedy makes for a great place to relax and enjoy nature. You can also visit some of downtown’s restaurants and cafes, like Coffee Underground and Spill the Beans.
2. Personalize your dorm room
A little creativity
Let’s face it, people. Dorm rooms can be just plain boring—not to say depressing. So instead of complaining, put your creative muscles to work and personalize your room! By investing some time and energy into personalizing your room, you’ll be able to feel more comfortable and at home in it. And believe me, this will make a world of difference.
A little piece of home
Transform your dorm room into a little piece of home. Try to bring in stuff you’d have in your bedroom back home. Picture frames, posters, colorful cushions, plants, coffee mugs—these all make for good items to make your room feel like a home away from home.
What it’s not
Socializing in college isn’t about having dinner with 50 people at the dining common or going to every single Bruins game. It doesn’t mean you should spend the whole day chatting in The Den while sipping that new flavored latte either. With a full college load, that’s just impossible.
What it is
Socializing IS about putting yourself out there for people. We need others, especially in those tough times when we’re homesick and would rather stay in all day. So go on a society outing. Visit the University Language Association meetings if you’re into languages. Go to a student play or concert. Put your homework and worries aside and just go have coffee with a friend.
4. Give yourself space to process and time to grieve
Space to process
I know I just talked about getting involved and being social, but spending some alone time processing is also important. If you like to write, take up journaling. If you’re an artist, create art. Go shoot some hoops or throw a Frisbee if you’re into sports. Find a quiet corner and spend some quality time with God. In proper measure, alone time can be healthy too.
Time to grieve
Don’t expect homesickness to go away in a week. It’s different for everyone, but it’ll most likely stay for a while. So let yourself grieve. You’ve undergone huge changes in a very short amount of time, and your mind’s still trying to adjust. So it’s okay to grieve. Hash out your feelings with a trusted friend or mentor. Cry if you need to. But don’t stay there.
5. Stay healthy
At first glance it may not seem like the dining common has a lot of healthy options, but you can actually enjoy healthy meals if you pick your food right. For some reason eating junk food is popular among college students. But don’t follow the crowd. Eat healthy.
You’ve heard it all your life. Exercise is important. But just how important is it? Well, besides keeping you from gaining weight, exercise helps you release stress. A healthy body = a healthy brain. If you want to keep up that 4.0 you’ve been working on, you better start exercising.
So, next time you feel overwhelmed by feelings of homesickness, stop for a moment. Breathe. Chill. Dealing with homesickness is tough, but it won’t kill you. Instead of moping around, take this as an opportunity to leave your comfort zone and grow—thrive.