Starting college is one of the most exciting times in a person's life. Whether you're starting right after high school or you've deferred for a few years, it's a time of change and meeting new people. If you're a college student starting up in a new city or state (or studying abroad as an international student), it's a major change — maybe it's a bigger city than you're accustomed to, and maybe you don't know anyone! These sudden shifts and new surroundings can cause anxiety but they can also bring on something unexpected: homesickness.
Most college freshman look forward to moving out and having more freedom, but longing for home and normalcy is more common than people realize. According to research, one in ten students will feel homesick while away at school (namely in first-year students). Here are some ways students can combat feelings of homesickness and sadness while in college.
Confront your feelings.
First of all, remember that change is hard! Be kind to yourself during this time, in a new environment. Remind yourself that your feelings and mental health are valid. Don't worry about how others are adapting to being university students. Focus on your feelings instead of trying to mask them. You can keep a journal if you're not comfortable talking to anyone about your anxieties and loneliness. Do other things that make you happy during this time (movies, books, shopping, meditation, exercising, etc.) and let you feel a sense of normalcy.
Reach out to friends, old and new.
It's extremely likely that others feel exactly the same way you do. Talking to others or a loved one about how you're feeling can really help, especially close friends from your hometown. Maybe there are others in your dorm or classes who are from out of town too. Make those new connections while keeping old ones. The goal isn't to stop thinking about home — it's to overcome homesickness and loneliness, and making new friends with roommates and classmates is a great way to do that.
Limit your social media time.
If you're always on your phone, how will you get out and meet new people or try new things? It will probably do more harm than good if you check out your friends' posts too much, so limit your time on Instagram and Facebook and don't distract yourself.
Don't compare yourself to others.
Does it seem like everyone is having a great time except for you? Maybe, but deep down, they could feel exactly the same way you do. The college experience is different for everyone, and just because some adjust better to it at first than others doesn't mean there's something wrong with you. Give yourself time to get used to your new schedule and life.
Every college has tons of ways for students to get involved in activities on campus. Take advantage of campus activities or even ask people if they want to study or hang out. NMC offers exciting student organizations and events. You'll meet new people with similar interests who might be going through the same changes you are. Remember that you're not the only new person! College is a time of change for everyone, regardless of whether or not they're away from home.
Remember, if your feelings don't go away after a long time and you feel like you've really given things a chance, you can always transfer to a different college where you feel like you're at a second home. There's no shame in wanting a better life and college experience for yourself. You might just thank yourself for it later on.
If you want to make a difference in the lives of others, check out Nebraska Methodist College to further your education and start a life-changing career.