9 Ways to Deal with Homesickness When You Go Off to College
Going off to college is the rough equivalent of being pushed out of an airplane with no parachute. Now, it's true that I've never actually been pushed out of an airplane with no parachute, but that's not going to stop me from using this metaphor a lot. What I have been is homesick. And you're going to be homesick, too, whether you're going off to college next week or you're already there now, crying into your textbooks and missing your dog. So, without further ado, here's how to deal with homesickness while you're hurtling through the stratosphere of new adulthood:
1. CRY ABOUT IT. JUST LET IT OUT. When I bid adieu to my parents for the first time, I had to stop and cry in two separate bathrooms on my way back to my dorm. You are not above sobbing in the shower and pretending you're in a sad music video. None of us are. Chris Pratt does this. I have no evidence, but we just have to believe.
2. Homesickness results when you've been forced out of your regular routine, not unlike being forced out of an airplane. To combat this, do things that mirror your regular routine. Read your favorite books, like Harry Potter. Eat foods you would eat at home, like entire chocolate cakes.
3. Recognize that you are not abnormal. Everyone gets homesick, even Beyonce.
4. Go do stuff. This is not a trick to get you to go outside. I'm the last person in the world who would try anything like that, given the dumpster fire that is my social life. But leaving your dorm room and doing stuff (like jogging, hanging out with people, or going on ill-fated skydiving adventures) will acclimate you to this new place so that you can stop Skyping your cat.
5. USE GOALS. If you get through this week, reward yourself with something, like a new book, a snack, or a mini horse.
6. Technology has got your back. We no longer post our snail mail to the Pony Express of yesteryear. We don't hitch up our wagons for the Oregon Trail, say farewell to our families, and just kind of hope we all see each other again one day. You can text, call, FaceTime, or use that sweet, sweet Google Chrome extension that lets you sync up Netflix accounts, because the future is now.
7. Join a club. I know, I know. This sounds like recycled garbage advice from your RA. Full disclosure: I did not join any clubs, and I don't really regret that. But had I joined the Squirrel Watching Club or the Society for People Who Hate Coleslaw, it absolutely would have eased my homesickness. At the very least, it would have given me more to talk about over nightly Skype calls with my cat.
8. Give yourself one semester. After my first week, I decided this whole schtick just wasn't for me. I told myself I had to suffer through the semester (because then no one could say I hadn't tried, right?), and after that I was going straight to community college. Don't let that mindset dictate your ability to adjust, but for Dumbledore's sake, everybody does it. And there's nothing wrong with that. I felt better having a Plan B, just in case. By winter break, however, I was no longer plotting my escape. I had made friends. I'd figured stuff out. I was totally fine. In truth, most people are.
9. Recognize that you can do this. If going to college is like getting pushed out of an airplane with no parachute, then surviving your first year is like realizing you had the presence of mind to strap on some really cool mechanical wings at the last minute. And I mean, look at me. I overuse airplane analogies, I cry in bathrooms, and I Skype my pets—and even I conquered Homesickness Mountain. And you can, too.
If you need more help navigating the tricky, parachute-less skies of college, check out Elodie's hilarious and helpful month-to-month guide!!
This post was originally published in 2015