College is Awesome! So, Why Do I Feel Homesick?

There’s a ton to love about college life. New friends. Classes you may be thrilled about. New-found freedom. I know I was. I got dropped off at my dorm, my dad left, and all of the sudden I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.

I learned to be responsible by mapping out classes and their times and how to study well to earn good grades. My social skills matured as I met new people. I loved my university, my classes, not having a curfew. I was part of a sports team as well, and expanded my base of friends exponentially that way as well.

But then something happened I didn’t expect. And you might not either. I got homesick.

You’re Not Alone

Believe it or not, feeling homesick is completely normal for any college student. A new place, unfamiliar faces, an increased mental workload adding stress on top of it all can be a difficult pill to swallow. This is your first time away from a structured setting, the first time away from home for an indefinite period of time.

According to a survey done by Beaumont Health Systems of Michigan, homesickness affects roughly 7% of the nations higher education students, or an estimated 1 out of 15 million students. That’s a lot, and it’s also only the ones that have expressed some concern.

Also, according to the Washington Postan estimated 65% of college freshman suffer from some form of homesickness.

So what does this mean? You aren’t the first, nor the last, nor the only one with these feelings. It’s completely natural, and to be expected.

So What Should I Do Next?

Recognizing that something is amiss is the first step. It can be difficult to call home or speak to an advisor about being homesick when everyone around you seems to be having the times of their lives. But remembering the fact that there are a ton of others feeling the same way can give you a little helping hand to speak up.

Also, in the age of everyone being connected via Facebook and texting, it can be easy to retreat behind a wall of technology to communicate, but this may do more harm than good. It can serve to not let the student sever those emotional ties to a home they’re feeling apart from, and can reduce contact to the new atmosphere around them.

So here are a few things to help get over those blues.

1. Get out of the dorm room: It can be easy to shut that door, stick on some headphones and ignore everyone else, but it’s ultimately not going to help in the long run.

2. Talk to your parents: Together, you can attack the problem together, form plans of action that help de-stress your situation and promote independence.

3. Be social: One of the greatest things about college is making new friends and experiencing new activities. It’s a huge adventure, and a fun one. Join an IM sports team, get a part-time job on campus, hit the gym, or find a club that is all about something you love. You’re guaranteed to find like-minded students who are in the same position as you.

4. Relax: It does get easier, and better.

College is Short: Make the Most of It

After a few weeks of feeling sorry for myself, I decided that enough was enough. I went out of my way to make friends in my dorm and in my classes, went to social events with them, joined a sports team. And wouldn’t you know that after a few more weeks of ‘fake it till you make it,’ I no longer had to fake it. I was truly enjoying myself, and spent the next four years having the time of my life and getting a great education to boot.

So don’t despair. You’re not alone.

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Jared Gerling

Jared Gerling

Jared Gerling earned his BA from Michigan State University. Jared has been writing since he was eleven when all his characters had swords and magic spells and bad attitudes. When not writing or studying, he can be found watching Spartan football and basketball games, reading, or working out. Jared currently lives in Chicago pursuing his MA in Writing in Publishing from DePaul University.

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