What is Homesickness
For most students, homesickness is the worst at the beginning of their college careers. For many people this is their first experience with life away from home, and their first step toward life on their own.
You might feel homesick from missing:
- Familiar people (girlfriend/boyfriend, parents, siblings, good friends, etc...)
- Comfortable, everyday surroundings like your own bed.
- Familiar places like old hangouts, restaurants, stores, etc.
- Conveniences that come with living at home (laundry, free home cooked food, financial stability, etc...)
- Old routines you grew accustom to.
- Your Pets.
Many first year students also miss their lives as high school seniors. Seniors were at the top of the high school ladder, and now college freshman are forced to start over in a new place where they aren't in charge. Add to that the fact that the first college semester is a much longer separation from parents and friends than many people are used to, and that many students are a significant way from home, and homesickness becomes much easier to conceptualize.
For some people the symptoms of homesickness are feelings of loneliness, sadness, and anxiety. Others may feel physical symptoms like stomach or headache, others become truly depressed. Most of the time when a student becomes accustom to the new surroundings and people the feelings of homesickness go away. If your feeling overwhelmed and the homesickness isn't going away it is a good idea to talk with someone at the counseling center in Academy Hall room 106.
So, how can I deal with my homesickness?
The best way to deal with homesickness is to make life in your new surroundings enjoyable:
- Make your new dorm your new home. Mix things that remind you of home (photos, stuffed animals, etc...) with other things that reflect who you are and your new independence.
- Get involved on campus. Concordia has 100's of groups, activities, sports, intramurals, and jobs that you can join. Invite new friends to join the groups with you.
- Do something you enjoy. When you're having fun, you're less likely to spend time thinking about what you miss.
- Invite friends or family to visit you at school. Spend a weekend showing your friend or family around Fargo-Moorhead.
- Lean more about the Fargo-Moorhead area. The Office of Student Affairs and Campus Information has lots of posters, pamphlets, and reading material about the F-M area.
- Take advantage of the many ways to stay in touch with family and friends. Send e-mails or text messages, write letters or a blog, or send postcards. Many computers come equipped with built in cameras for video messaging, and this is a great way to see people who are a long way away.
- Writing a journal about how you feel can help you understand your feelings. Writing about homesickness might show you what you really miss, and then you can find a personal way to ease the ache.
- Talk to other students, a student mentor, an RA, or anyone you know will listen about how you feel. You may find that they have been/are currently dealing with a similar situation.
The occasional visit home can help alleviate homesickness- and it might even remind you of the good parts of your life at Concordia. The tricky part is to not hold on to your old life too tightly. If you find yourself driving home every weekend, it will make it hard to acclimate to college life.
It's fine to tell people back home that you miss them. You may even want to talk to them about your concerns about adapting to college. Sometimes talking your feeling through with people you trust can help you feel better. If you find yourself constantly complaining about college life when you call home, though, consider what you're really feeling. Can you resolve or accept the things that are causing you to feel homesick or are they signs of more deep seated unhappiness?
For most students homesickness gradually fades as they begin to settle into new routines. Sometimes, though, people do not get over homesickness and may start to feel depressed.
Symptoms of depression include:
- A feeling of hopelessness
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Sadness or a depressed mood most of the time, for no apparent reason
- Irritability or anxiety
- Feeling tired or lacking energy
- Loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Changes in eating habits, such as a loss of appetite/weight loss or overeating/weight gain
- Changes in sleep patterns, such as suddenly sleeping all the time or difficulty sleeping much at all
- Trouble concentrating
- Thoughts of suicide or death
If you have some of these symptoms, or if you can't shake your feelings of homesickness, the counseling center is a great place to seek help. If you are just seeking a student to talk to about what is going on in your life feel free to contact a student mentor.
Almost everyone has felt homesick at some point in their lives. After a few months away at school you'll probably wonder why you ever felt homesick in the first place. You may even experience a different form of homesickness when you head home for vacations or the long summer break: missing your new friends and college life.