After four years of high school and months of anxiety leading up one of the most joyous occasions you’ve ever experienced in opening the mail – that is, the day you found out you were accepted to your college of choice – you would think that your move to college would be a happy one. So why is it that after getting settled into your new dorm and going to your first classes, you feel a sense of melancholy, and even great sadness? Homesickness is a common thing that a great number of first year college students experience, but luckily, there are ways to quickly get over your homesick blues so that you can begin fully enjoying your college career.
Homesickness is not a defined illness, Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Counseling Center asserts, but it is a very real phenomenon that affects students every year. Symptoms include feelings of isolation and loneliness, sometimes even leading to depression. These symptoms can interfere with student health and studies, so it is important to address them as soon as possible. Most students experience homesickness because of the radical change of lifestyle that they go through during college, as well as the sudden "loss" of their old lifestyle. After all, many students spend nearly two decades living with their parents at home and cultivating a close group of friends, and then they are suddenly plopped into a new town where they may not know anyone and must fend for themselves. This change can be jarring, causing many first-year college students to experience a sense of homesickness, or a longing for the familiar.
To get over some of the anxiety caused by moving to a new place, try to get to know your new surroundings as quickly as possible. Explore your campus by walking around everywhere, even to buildings where none of your classes are held. Explore the city surrounding your campus by taking the bus or train out, or by driving into the town to see what is around. When you get a good idea of where everything is, you will instantly feel more at home than if your campus and surrounding city remained mysterious. By the same token, get over some of your anxiety of not knowing anyone by getting to know some people. A great place to begin establishing new contacts and friendships is by befriending your roommates, neighbors, and classmates. Take the initiative to be friendly towards the people you see the most often so that you can at least feel comfortable around them. Also consider joining clubs that appeal to you, as the members of that club already share the same passion as you, making it easier to connect with them. As time goes on, you will establish a new social network that will make you feel secure.
Reaching out to your old family and friends from back home is another good way to combat homesickness. You can write them letters, send e-mails, or make phone calls, which can help to ease the stress you feel from abruptly having to leave them behind. However, be sure to also take the time to make new friends because only then will you truly beat your homesick blues.
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