5 Ways of Coping With Homesickness

By Marina Krivonossova on December 3, 2019

Starting college is an exciting time in a young adult’s life, often paired with moving out of the home they’ve lived in for the last 18 years. But along with all this newfound freedom and positivity comes a feeling most of us either expect or hope we won’t experience: homesickness. “College dorms often serve as the backdrop for pizza and movie nights, study marathons and budding friendships, making them great places to meet new people when students are far from home,” (U.S. News 2019) but they also serve as places of loneliness, isolation, and emotional strife for young adults leaving an environment that they grew up in.

I moved out of my parents’ house when I was 18 years old, traveling 400 miles south of the city I grew up in and starting anew in a region I knew hardly anything about. At 19, I took a leap of faith and made a move to study abroad in a country 6,000 miles away. At 21, I returned to that country — all by myself — with nothing but some suitcases and an urge to jump out of my comfort zone. So you can trust me when I say this: I know firsthand how painful dealing with homesickness is. But you can also trust me when I tell you that it is doable, and not nearly as difficult as people leaving home for the first time seem to think. That’s why I’m here today to give you some tips on overcoming the homesickness that’s suddenly come over you.

(Image via pexels.com)

(1) Don’t lose touch with your home, but don’t prioritize staying connected 24/7. The biggest mistake people make in battling homesickness is convincing themselves that nonstop interaction with their friends, family, coworkers, etc. back home is the key to alleviating homesickness. This is a major mistake.

The more you hold on to your connections back home, the fewer new connections you’ll make in your new location. You’ll feel lonely and isolated in your new home, simply because you can’t break the ties with the place you’ve left behind. By all means, Skype your mom and text your best friend as often as you’d like. But in doing so, do not avoid making new worthwhile connections in the place you’ve relocated to! Which brings me to my next point…

(Image via pexels.com)

(2) Put yourself out there! Why do you feel so connected to your hometown where you grew up? It’s because of all the amazing memories you’ve made and all the great people you’ve met. Going to your grandma’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. Opening Christmas presents under the tree with your brother. Cycling around the neighborhood with your best friend from kindergarten. All of these memories are irreplaceable, and they’ve helped mark your hometown as forever a special place in your heart. But that doesn’t mean the good times begin and end with your old home.

Now that you’re here — on your own, surrounded by new and exciting people — it’s your chance to make even more worthwhile memories that’ll help you feel at home somewhere else. Consider joining clubs on campus or making small talk with a stranger in your lecture. Get a part-time job at a spot that interests you (I got a job at a gym, where I would have spent hours of every single week anyway!)

With the rise of technology, there are even opportunities for students to meet new friends or potential romantic partners on apps or websites (but keep in mind these tips for staying safe online). The point is, there are so many options on how to meet new people and feel like part of a family/community away from the home you’ve grown up in, that getting rid of homesickness is easier than ever.

(Image via pexels.com)

(3) Keep pieces of home with you. Whether it’s a painting from your old room, photos of cherished memories, or random knickknacks on your shelves, bring some pieces of home with you to your new dorm or apartment. When I first moved out of my parents’ house, my new room was bare and empty — I didn’t initially feel the need to decorate it, as I felt I would prefer a tidy and distraction-free environment. And boy, was I wrong.

Decorating my walls with photos of adventures with friends and family made my new room feel less like a cramped dorm room and more like my new “home away from home.” Don’t underestimate the power of personalizing your living space! To this day, I love looking at my walls and remembering the fun times I had with my loved ones back home, many years ago. And I anxiously await the moments when I get to make new memories which I can then add to my ever-growing collection.

(Image via pexels.com)

(4) Buy foods/snacks that remind you of home. This one was huge for me since I’m a major foodie! There are so many food items that I ate growing up that I could never find in the new places I moved to, so I turned to the Internet for help. And let me tell you — it was a game-changer in the battle against homesickness. Just ordering my favorite kettle corn and curling up on the couch, watching the movie my mom and I used to watch together, made me feel comforted and safe. The feeling of homesickness melted away quicker than the popcorn in my mouth! If you’ve already met some new people wherever you’ve moved to, invite them over to relish in your memories as well. Perhaps they can join in the battle against homesickness.

(5) Make plans to visit your home. At the end of the day, no matter how hard you try to fight homesickness, there’s no getting around the fact that home is where your heart is. But luckily for you, we live in a world of planes, trains, and cars, so odds are, your home is just a plane ticket or car drive away.

Making travel plans to visit in the near or distant future makes being away at the moment all the easier, because you know the distance between you and your home isn’t eternal. But, just as with avoiding isolation in your new location, avoid making a visit back home your primary focus as you immerse yourself in your new environment. Keep the visit in the back of your mind, but do your best to enjoy where you are in the present. After all, time flies faster than you think, and you don’t want to miss the amazing world in front of you while you’re anxiously waiting for something you’ve planned for the future. Because the future will come no matter what — there’s no avoiding it. Yet it is up to you to enjoy the present, along with the challenges and opportunities it presents.

Ultimately, the main takeaway from all this is that the best thing you can do for yourself is make your new dorm, apartment, and overall environment feel as much like a “home away from home” as possible. It takes time and patience, but it’s something I learned how to do in multiple new locations I’ve lived, and it’s something you can do, too. And remember — you’re not alone. So many other young adults are out on their own for the very first time, and they could use your support just as much as you could use theirs.

What if you could end up being the reason someone starts to feel less homesick?

By Marina Krivonossova

Uloop Writer
Now that she has completed her undergraduate degree at UC Irvine, Marina is a Leiden University graduate student pursuing a major in political science with a focus in international organization. She has an educational background in business, economics, teaching, and politics. Her passions include creative writing, experimenting with new baking recipes, and traveling the world.

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