How to Beat the Homesick Blues

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Whether a first-year or a senior, whether 10 minutes or 10 hours from campus, most college students find themselves missing home at one time or another. First-year and semester abroad experiences can be especially tough for students. We asked current students to tell us about a time they were homesick, and how they were able to overcome it.

• “When I got to college, I found it really weird that I was spending all my time with people in the “college student” age range, and I missed getting to spend time with kids and adults who are older than 22. If a student misses hanging out with kids, I would definitely consider spending some time volunteering at a local elementary school, Scout troop or youth group. If a student wants to bond with adults, I recommend joining a local gym, volunteering with a nonprofit or attending non-Davidson events such as concerts and off-campus lectures. It’s a great way to break the Davidson bubble!”

Freedom School

• “One of the hardest things about being at college is losing the built-in support system of people you know and trust. It’s definitely important to stay in contact with people from back home, but it’s also crucial to work on building relationships with people here, and to create a sense of trust that they will be there for you when you need them. I think that encouraging students to join a club to meet people with similar interests or even hang out with other people who live on their hall can help with the adjustment.”

• “When I was unpacking my suitcase upon arrival in Zambia, I found that my parents had left me a card with some encouraging words. It was nice to open that note after I had already left home and that I had it with me to re-read when I got homesick.”

• “Organize a ‘field trip’ and go explore the community! You may still miss home, but you’ll start to fall in love with your new home-away-from-home. This is also a great way to forge relationships with other students.”

• “When I was homesick my first year, sometimes it helped to go for a walk around campus and say hello to everyone I saw. Before I knew it, I had started to recognize people and feel a greater sense of community. Even if you never actually have a conversation, it’s nice to at least share a greeting!”

Students Walking

• “While I was studying abroad, I had limited contact with my parents, but they would send me a text almost once a day to check-in and ask about what I was doing, etc. It was good to hear from them, especially since I pretty much only interacted with the same nine people on my trip for the whole month. I also recommend parents encourage their students to share their thoughts and experiences with others on their trip. This is important because homesickness feels even worse the longer you hold it in. And, it’s likely that the other person has had a similar experience.”

• “Think about which aspects of home you miss the most, and then share those traditions with your friends! For instance, my family always has a little party for Groundhog Day, so now I always bake cupcakes to share with friends on Groundhog Day and continue the tradition.”

Sharing Tradition

• “Since Davidson is so close to my home, I did not experience homesickness like the typical college student. However, I did have to adjust to being away from home for the first time in my own way. Despite the proximity to home, it was nice to check my PO Box and find cards from my parents for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Finals week, etc.”

• “I know that I did not contact my parents much at all the first year. While no news can be good news, I advise parents to send a text or call their student every once in a while to check on them and make sure they are doing ok.”

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About Author

Hannah Jakob

Hannah is an assistant director of Alumni and Family Engagement and an alumna from the Class of 2012.

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