Health Corner: Homesickness

BY BECKY IVERSON
For the UAS Whalesong
Leaving home to attend college is both an exciting and challenging event. For many students, part of the challenge of college is dealing with feelings of homesickness.
What is the best way to deal with homesickness?
The fact is, there is no single approach that is best for everyone. However, there are several considerations that can be helpful in dealing with homesickness.
First, know that homesickness is a normal and common response experienced to some degree by the majority of students who leave home for the first time.  Even those who have spent time away from home before, can have feelings of missing family and friends, loneliness, self-doubt, concentration problems, and preoccupation with returning home.
Second, understanding why these feelings of homesickness develop can be helpful in dealing with them. Home is usually a place where one feels accepted and secure. Support from parents, family and friends, familiarity with one’s surroundings, and confidence in one’s abilities to be successful and meet challenges all contribute to a sense of self-assurance and security. However, when one leaves this supportive environment, feelings of insecurity can develop.  These feelings can become even more intense when adjusting to the new academic challenges and expectations of college life.
Third, there are some basic strategies for combating homesickness that have proven effective in moderating the effects of homesickness.
1.     Homesickness is generally temporary.  Give yourself some time to adjust to your new surroundings.  Remember to be realistic with yourself and your goals for connecting on campus. You probably won’t find your new best friend by the end of the first week, but you will feel more connected if you get yourself out there, get involved and remember that quality connections take some time to develop.
2.    Get involved with other students, classes and student activities.  The sooner you adapt to your new surroundings, the less intense will be your feelings of discomfort in missing home.
3.    Call or write home but avoid getting into the habit of calling for hours upon end.  You don’t want to be spending so much time with friends and family from home that you miss out on the fun stuff on your own campus.  This is especially important during the beginning of the school year when social groups are forming and on-campus friendships are developing.
4.    Indulge Yourself when those feelings of homesickness crop up.  Do something that provides comfort and makes you feel better.  Maybe watching your favorite movie, buying a small treat or finding a way to decorate your room with something nice will make you feel more at home.
5.    Plan a visit.  Having a scheduled time to visit your family can help with homesickness as it can give you something to look forward to and reassure you. This will also help you avoid going home too much and taking you away from the very campus you are trying to connect with.
6.    Talk out your feelings with a friend or resident hall counselor. Getting feelings off your chest can provide a new perspective and sense of relief.
7.    If these feelings persist or become so intense that they affect your daily activities or class attendance, you may benefit from talking to one of the counselors in the Student Resource Center (796-6000).
Most importantly, however, be patient with yourself if you are dealing with homesickness.  It does tend to get better with time as you adjust to your new surroundings.  Before you know it, you will probably feel less anxious as you develop your own new routines and your own new space.

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