There are many ways to cope with college life when you get homesick, and you're going to need them. Even if you've spent summers away at camp, spend your secondary education years at boarding school, or only live a few towns away, you'll feel homesick. My parents moved from Virginia to New York with me when I went to college (I'm a spoiled rotten only child, what can I say?) and I was still homesick. I missed all of my friends, my teachers, our old hangouts, and the lazy, close-knit pace of my home town. You'll miss something, whether it's your mom and dad, your boyfriend or girlfriend, or the tree house in your backyard. When you feel yourself getting sad and nostalgic, find the ways to cope with college life that work best for you.
1. Don't Isolate Yourself
You can't isolate yourself because you feel homesick. If you stay in your dorm room, venturing out only to go to class or have a meal, you'll feel even more depressed. You might feel like you don't want to do anything else, but sometimes forcing yourself to socialize, explore, and engage are among the best ways to cope with college life. Even if you want to be by yourself, go to the library or onto the commons with a good book or your favorite playlist. At least you'll be surrounded by other people.
2. Place Your Memories in the Present
Decorate your dorm room with the memories that matter most. Bring along your childhood teddy bear, frame pictures of your family, and make a collage of your high school friends and some of your fondest memories. That way you'll have home with you at all times, but these mementos will occupy their own space – out in your room instead of solely in your head.
3. Make New Friends
Of course, making new friends is one of the most foolproof ways to cope with college life, especially when you're feeling homesick. You might feel shy or uncomfortable, but even if it's hard for you to make friends, it will happen naturally if you're open enough. You'll see the same people in class, at meal times, and in your dorm every day. Sometimes the most long-lasting friendships begin because the girl sitting beside you in Sociology needs to borrow your notes.
4. But Keep the Old
You should never forget your old friends. These days it's easier to keep in touch than it's ever been. In addition to calling each other, writing real letters, and sending emails, you can communicate through Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, send each other texts or Snapchats, and even see each other over Skype or Facetime. Make the most of modern day technology by keeping in touch whenever you need to see a familiar face. You can even use Facetime to give your old friends a tour of your dorm or your campus, and introduce them to your new buddies!
5. Find a Club That Appeals to Your
Distraction is paramount for avoiding homesickness. The best way to distract yourself is to join a club you really love. You might be interested in joining a sorority, getting into the Honor Society, playing a sport, or joining the band – there is no end to the opportunities available to you. From table top gaming clubs to swim teams and student government committees, you'll find something that encourages your passions!
6. Don't Become a Study-aholic
Studying hard and getting good grades are both great – and essential if you want to do well in college. However, burying yourself in your studies because you are homesick is dangerous. You'll eventually get completely burned out and everything will come crashing down around you. Keep things in perspective and keep your life balanced.
7. Make the Most of Home Visits
Don't forget, you will get to go home. College students get lots of breaks. At my school, we got a four-day fall break, a week for Thanksgiving, almost a month for the winter holidays, a week for Spring Break, and we typically got out long before the end of May. You'll have tons of opportunities to travel back to your home town and see your friends and family. If you're close enough, you can even visit on weekends – but don't go home every weekend; that can make things worse. In time, as your homesickness eases, you may even want to go other places during your breaks. Don't worry, you'll get to that point.
Homesickness is no joke. It sounds romantic, as if it might feel soft and sweet and movie-melancholy, but if you aren't careful it can leave you depressed, distracted, and miserable. You'll have some of the best years of your life in college, and you don't want to waste them wishing you were somewhere else, doing something else. Nostalgia is fine; so is looking back and fondly remembering your youth. However, if you seat yourself in the past, you're not only jeopardizing your future, you're doing a disservice to the present. Did you feel homesick during your first semester with college? Please share your advice on how best to cope.