Over the summer, and for years prior (since the sixth grade) that I’ve been looking forward to attending college, I always dreamt of the fun activities in which I’d participate, the interesting people I’d meet, and the endless opportunities of higher learning. While I have come to realize all of those expectations, I never stopped to consider the hardships I might face—most notably, homesickness. So far college has proven to be everything I ever imagined. But all of sudden? This week has hit me hard with an insatiable longing for home, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. While nothing will fully satisfy that desire until an actual return a la casa, most likely for Thanksgiving, here are a few tips to manage the yearning until that time comes.
Identify the source. At what point did you start feeling homesick? What triggered it? For me, I think I started experiencing it because the weather suddenly became very cold and gloomy. All I wanted to do was curl up on the couch back home with my parents to watch a movie and eat my mom’s delicious corn chowder. Instead, I remained walking back from classes through the chilling mile-high air, only to return to a mountainous to-do list and a dorm that doesn’t quite elicit the same cozy sentiments as my room back home.
By identifying the cause and onset of your homesickness, you can better approach a fitting solution. In my case, I obviously can’t change the weather. I can, however, bundle up to feel less irritated about the cold and take a night for myself to watch Netflix and drink hot chocolate, all cozy and warm and fall-like. Whatever the source of your longing, address it by either directly changing it or indirectly getting creative with solutions, like I did.
Exercise. Whenever I feel down for any reason, exercising always helps make me feel better (gotta love those endorphins). It can be really difficult to find the time to work out during college. I know I haven’t been great at it, and I think that’s why suddenly all those angsty feelings manifested as homesickness. To cope, I suggest going for a run, doing a machine at your school’s gym like an elliptical or stairclimber, or completing any other workout you know. The other night, when my desire to go home particularly taunted me, I decided to swim laps in the gym pool. I instantly felt better by the time I hoisted myself out of the water; exercise can really help clear your head and calm you down if you’re feeling anxious. I highly recommend this to combat those emotions. You can check out the three following posts for fitness ideas and ways to freshen up after a midday workout in the gym:
Get a good night of sleep. Similar to exercise, there could be another underlying cause of your homesickness: a lack of sleep. I know when I’m really tired, I start to feel irritated and upset much more easily, which in turn breaks the barrier into a realm of other less-than-ideal emotions. College is insanely busy, and again, you might feel like there’s never time to finish everything unless you stay up super late and get up early. While sometimes this method is necessary, you can’t thrive—or even survive—on it for long. Take the time to treat yourself by going to bed early one night, as in, 9:30 kind of early. You might think you can’t possibly sacrifice that much of your day, but I guarantee there are other, less important things in your day you can sacrifice instead. For example, next time you sit down to crank out some homework, leave your phone in your dorm room or hide it in a drawer. It might amaze you how much more you can accomplish in the same amount of time without distractions (I know I need to do this more often myself—I’m totally guilty).
Explore off campus. I never considered this, but I actually miss having to commute places and driving to my destinations. While on a college campus, you eat, sleep, and study all in the same general location, never really leaving your little bubble. This makes me kind of stir-crazy on the weekends when there aren’t as many on-campus events. That’s why getting out to explore, even if you don’t have a car, can engender excitement in your new surroundings rather than a wish to be back home in the familiar. I’ve been going on runs around campus and picking a different street to explore each time. Discovering someplace new can break the monotony of your everyday routine, and it instead reminds you of your initial excitement about heading off to college.
Go out to eat. I know, college kids are poor. But spending $10-$15 with a group of friends at a sit-down restaurant might be the perfect relief from your homesickness (and the tired cafeteria food). I really miss the taste of a good juicy burger, which makes me wish I was back at the wooden table in our kitchen, sinking my teeth into a gluten-free bun perfectly toasted by my father. Not only will going out to eat get you off campus, but it can also be a fun way to destress with friends and enjoy a new atmosphere.
Distract yourself. As I sat at my desk the other night, longing for that favorite indentation in my living room couch back home, I most certainly did not want to read 50 pages of my criminology textbook. I much rather would’ve moped and lounged uncomfortably on the hard floors of my dorm room. Instead, I did my best to be studious and buried my nose in that book. You know what I found? I had completely forgotten about feeling homesick! I know, doing your homework is probably the last thing you want to do on any given day (except for maybe your laundry in the sketchy dorm laundromat). But diving headfirst into your to-do list could be the perfect distraction from any loneliness or sadness you may be feeling. Not to mention, it feels so good to be productive. Working ahead and accomplishing something might act as a different kind of adrenaline rush that will boost you out of your funk.
The last few nights, I haven’t been interested in attending all the club meetings and events I usually do because of the cold. But let me tell you, sitting around your room by yourself with nothing to do is the worst thing for your homesickness! Get out of your dorm and get involved; the events may not be as enjoyable as usual, but at least you’ll be distracted. Before you know it, you’ll realize how much fun you’re having and that you completely forgot your gloomy sentiments.
Write letters. There’s nothing I love more than the excitement of opening my mailbox to see I received a handwritten note; I guess you could say I’m old fashioned like that. Similarly, I like to share that excitement with other people by writing my own letters, sealing on a shark or Scooby Doo stamp, and sending them off. It may cause you to miss home even more, but making someone else’s day by letting them know you’re thinking of them just might make your own day as well.
With all the excitement and fun of college, it’s not without inevitable challenges. I hope these tips will help you live each moment to the fullest and get back to your embrace of every new experience! They’ve certainly helped me. Enjoy your Thursday, have a fabulous weekend, and feel free to reach out if you want to chat or have more tips. 🙂
Miles of smiles,
P.S. I’ve been trying to make my outfits more stylish by purposely not matching but rather pairing unexpected items together. For example, I usually would’ve worn this sweater and vest combination with plain black pants and simple brown booties. Instead, I decided to make the look more visually interesting by combining these lace-up pants with leopard print, jewel tones like the mustard in my hair clips and the turquoise in my choker, and gold and silver mixed together. What do you think? Is this look too much or the perfect amount of unexpected pizazz?
Beige Cableknit Sweater: Nordstrom Rack, $18 // Maroon Quilted Vest: Francesca’s, $45 // Black Lace Up Pants: JCPenney, $11 // Leopard Rain Booties: Ralph Lauren via Macy’s, $60 // Black Elephant Purse: Francesca’s, $20