Coping with homesickness on college campuses

I remember when I left home for the first time; before I transferred to Georgia State, I attended Georgia Southern University, which is about four hours from my hometown. I was thrilled to be on my own and living in an off-campus apartment with my roommates. Even so, I remember having bouts of homesickness. They weren’t anything serious where I’d need to phone home and ask my parents to pick me up, just feelings of melancholy.

Although I didn’t suffer from a severe case of homesickness, I have no doubt that many other students did. Going away to college and getting homesick is nothing new, but it might be more serious than people think.  

I think students hit hardest by homesickness are freshmen. Unless they’ve attended boarding school, freshmen have probably never gone to school away from home. According to the parenting blog Grown and Flown 66% of freshmen reported feeling homesick or lonely. The absence of family, friends and their home environment leaves an emptiness in college freshmen, one that they’ve never experienced before. The remaining 34% of freshmen didn’t find themselves suffering from homesickness, and if they did it wasn’t at a crucial level. 

Leaving home is not for everyone. While the idea of being away from their parents and getting their first taste of  true independence seems exhilarating in the beginning, reality soon sets in. Sure, some people can live in another city, state or even country without any problems, but that doesn’t apply to everyone, being in unfamiliar territory and having to navigate your way through the world on your own can start to take a toll on your mental and emotional wellbeing.

As a result, students may notice their grades lowering. When a person is under distress, potentially suffering from symptoms such as anxiety and feeling isolated, they can’t give their full attention to the lessons being taught in class. With the loss of the stability that their home life provided, students can end up self-sabotaging their education.

The saying,- “It takes a village to raise a child”-, rings truer than people think. When the child has left the village that contains their support system without being 100% ready to be on their own, the consequences can be detrimental. So, how can students overcome, or at least reduce, the burden of homesickness?

One way is for students to build their own support systems of close friends and classmates. However, Presence says that incoming college students are socializing less with their peers, meaning college students are not building formative relationships with one another.

Having a foundation to stand on when things get hard can help you through the toughest predicaments. And if you’re still having a hard time, it’s okay to find someone to talk to, be it a school counselor or therapist. At the end of the day, we all want to feel a sense of comfort, even if we’re a little far from home.