Research indicates that as many as 70% of university students develop feelings of homesickness at some point during their college career. While the excitement, stress, and new surroundings of being in college are a part of every student’s experience, the adjustments that have to be made are not always easy. It’s important to remember that you aren’t the only one having these feelings and that there are many others that have to make the transition to college life along with you.
The process of adjusting to your new environment (e.g. your dorm room, new roommate, courses, and schedule) may seem exciting at first but may become somewhat overwhelming after the newness wears off. However, others may find that the process of making new friends, adjusting to the dorm, or missing your friends and family back home is difficult from the start. Since most people find comfort in familiar surroundings and relationships, the process of leaving the familiarity of home and moving into a new environment can make this process difficult. It is important to remember that dealing with change can be a difficult process and that it is normal to have some difficulty adjusting. Since every student has varying degrees of connectedness to friends and parents, distance from home, and level of independence the impact of homesickness can vary greatly from person to person. Some common characteristics of homesickness are as follows:
- A faint sense of loss when thinking about familiar things like friends, family, pets, and even your own bed.
- Failure to get into a comfortable routine.
- Being miserable and lonely and lacking the desire to get out of your room.
- A strong resistance to return to school after a weekend visit or holiday.
- Crying for no reason and an empty feeling like nobody understands.
- Getting angry at others who seem to be enjoying their college experience.
While some students with homesickness may experience all of these, others might struggle with completely different things. In addition to remembering that homesickness is common and normal there are some other things that might help you to get acquainted with your environment faster and/or help you to get some relief from the homesickness.
Get involved and do things that you enjoy.
Though you may feel like staying in your room watching TV, listening to music, or chatting with your friends from back home on line, get out and take advantage of some of the campus activities. Get involved in a club, intramurals, or home Bible study group. There are a lot of activities on campus and you will likely find that there are others who like to do some of the things you enjoyed doing back home.
Keep in touch with your family and friends.
Even though reminders of home might make you feel even further away at first, the comfort of a familiar voice can ease the sadness when you feel like an unknown in such a strange place.
Keep your goals in mind.
Don’t lose track of what you came to college for. Make the decision to go to class and to make the best of your college experience. Focus on your school work and on the mission that you’ve set out on to get a degree that will be with you for the rest of your life.
Talk to a professional.
Some people feel like an issue like homesickness is stupid and should just go away; just having that disposition about it can make the feelings worse. Harding has trained professionals that can be a resource for you to learn more about ways to deal with homesickness and they can help you remember that you are in the majority if you are having some difficulty making the transition to college life.
Most students find that after they begin to develop a routine, strong friendships, and make a new home for themselves on the Harding campus their homesickness diminishes. However, there are others that continue to struggle despite all their efforts. In either case if you feel like homesickness is having a negative impact on your college experiences don’t hesitate to call the University Counseling Center at 279-4347.