How to handle homesickness

Amy McNeel

As another school year rolls in, freshmen are starting their college journeys and experiencing their first true taste of freedom. The beginning of college marks a new chapter in a person’s life, and with this new chapter, change is inevitable.

For some, the move to college is a glorious day they’ve dreamed about for many, many months. For others, it is a day full of dread and sadness as they say goodbye to family. For most, however, it is a bittersweet day full of excitement and maybe a few tears.

While the move to college is both exciting and fun, it can also be quite challenging. Leaving the comfort of one’s home, friends and family can be upsetting and lonely and can result in homesickness. Defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as a “longing for home and family while absent from them,” homesickness is a common problem that can affect both freshmen and upperclassmen alike. It can hit right when your family walks out the door or months into the school year.

When facing homesickness, it is important to realize that you are not alone. There are thousands of students who are feeling the same way as you, and there are many ways to help cope with it.

Last year, as a freshman, I entered Grand Valley State University without knowing a single person. I was three hours from home, and I felt scared and lonely as I watched my family drive away. For me, homesickness hit harder on some days than others, but I realized that although I was not home with my family, I still felt their love and support. We live in an age that allows us to connect with people who are miles away. FaceTime, phone calls and texts helped me stay connected with my friends and family when I missed them the most.

Furthermore, it is important to remember that college is exactly what you make of it. There are thousands of fish in the sea that is GVSU, and each day is a new opportunity to meet people. Surrounding yourself with kind, like-minded people reduces loneliness and helps you to feel more at home while on campus. It takes the pressure off of being away from other friends and family and reduces any looming sense of loneliness.

Along with this, it is also a good idea to get involved on campus. With a massive amount of clubs, intramural sports and on-campus organizations at GVSU, the possibilities are endless to find something that sparks your interest. Getting involved allows you to occupy free time in a productive, fun way and altogether helps keep your mind off of home.

College is an adventure that is exciting, new and challenging, and at times it is also scary. When it comes down to it, leaving the comfort and familiarity of home is no easy feat. Homesickness is a common, healthy thing. Like many difficult things in life, dealing with homesickness gets easier with time. College is an amazing experience and although times can be hard, it can also be really amazing. So, keep in touch with home, meet new people, get involved and enjoy your first true taste of freedom.