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How to Deal With Homesickness in College

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Going away to college is a big life transition, and it can also be hard to leave home. However, it’s important to remember that you haven’t left for good. You can always go home for a visit or to stay if you really want to. But while you’re away at college, you have a whole new world of people and fun opening up to you! Enjoy this exciting time of growth and adventure by getting involved in campus activities and meeting new people. When homesickness hits you hard, allow yourself to feel it and seek help if you are struggling. As you continue your college journey, maintain your connections to home with regular phone calls, visits, and decorative touches.

Staying Connected to Home

Talk to people at home via weekly phone calls. Don’t rely on social media, text, or emails alone to stay connected. Make sure that you call home once per week or more if needed to maintain your connections. You could even try video chatting with friends and family back home to feel even more connected. [1]

  • Try scheduling a weekly phone call home when you have time to sit and chat for a while, such as on a Saturday morning or on a weeknight evening when you don’t have anything planned.

Plan a visit home so you’ll have something to look forward to. Most colleges give students a long weekend and a week-long break at some point during the semester, which is the perfect opportunity to head home for a visit. Plan out your visit in advance by securing transportation and making plans with friends and family back home. [2] You may want to mark the visit on your calendar and count down the days if it makes you feel better.

Decorate your room with things that remind you of home. Your dorm room or college apartment is your home away from home, so you can decorate it however you want. Try decorating it with a few items from your bedroom at home to help make it seem more inviting. You could even maintain the same color scheme and theme as your bedroom back home if you’d like. [3]

  • If the walls of your bedroom at home are covered with your favorite movie posters, bring some of them with you to college and put them up.
  • Or, if you have a green and white color scheme in your bedroom at home, get some green and white decorative touches to place in your dorm room.
  • Making up your bed with your favorite old comforter, throw pillow, or even a stuffed animal can also help to make it seem more like home.

Coping with Your Feelings

Acknowledge your feelings and allow yourself to experience them. If you notice that you’re feeling homesick, don’t try to ignore how you’re feeling. Acknowledge that you’re experiencing homesickness and allow yourself to feel sad for a while, such as by crying or just being quiet and noticing how you feel. However, try to make sure to limit how long you spend feeling sad, such as keeping it to a 1-2 hour window. [4] You might also benefit from writing about your feelings. This can help you to understand your feelings better and give you time to experience them.

Talk to a friend or family member about how you’re feeling. Once you have given yourself permission and time to experience your feelings, talk to someone you trust about what you’re going through. Try calling up a friend, parent, or sibling and telling them how you feel.[5] For example, you might say something like, “I’m feeling really sad and I think it’s because I’m homesick.” Let them know how being homesick is affecting you, such as if it’s making it hard to concentrate or enjoy fun things.

Keep in mind that homesickness may continue for a while, or it may come and go throughout your college years. This is perfectly normal. Be patient with yourself and don’t try to force yourself to feel better. [6]

Visit the counseling center on your campus if you’re struggling. If you continue to feel sad and isolated, reach out to someone who can help you. Most college campuses provide free counseling to their students, so consider paying a visit to the campus counseling center. Try calling first to see if you need to make an appointment or if they have drop-in hours available. [7] It’s especially important to talk with a counselor if your homesickness is interfering with your ability to succeed in your courses or engage in everyday activities. Also, make sure to talk to someone right away if you’ve lost interest in things you used to enjoy.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 to connect to a local crisis center or text MHA to 741741 to connect to a trained Crisis Counselor 24/7. You can also call 911 or visit your local emergency room.

Get Involved in Campus Life

Join a club or special interest group on campus. This is a great way to fill your time, meet new friends, and have fun while you’re in college. Attend the club fair during the first couple weeks of the semester or visit the office of student activities to find out what clubs are available. Pick one or two that sound interesting to you and attend their meetings. [8] For example, if you’re interested in politics, you could join the College Democrats or College Republicans. If you like acting, you might get involved with the campus Drama or Improv club.

Attend your classes even if you’re feeling down. Regular attendance is important for doing well in college and it’s also a great way to distract yourself if you’re feeling homesick. Don’t skip class because you’re feeling sad about missing home. Go to class, learn as much as you can, and talk to people! [9] For example, you could chat with your neighbor before class starts, introduce yourself to your professor after class, or just respond to questions your professor asks during the lesson.

Take advantage of campus amenities. If you don’t have anything going on, use the time to explore a new part of your campus. Colleges usually have a student gym, recreation center, and a large library. Pick something on your campus to check out and enjoy yourself. [10]

Introduce yourself to classmates and others. It can be a little scary to be in a new place with all new people, but it’s also very exciting! Take the opportunity to make new friends. Introduce yourself to the person or people sitting next to you in each of your classes. Ask them where they’re from, what their major is, and how they’re liking college so far. [11]

Many professors include an icebreaker activity on the first day of classes to help students get to know each other. Try to remember the names of each of the people you meet during this activity. Then, greet them by their name if you happen to bump into them later in the day.

Make plans to do things with the people you meet. Look for opportunities to invite people to do things with you and accept invitations from people that you want to get to know better. [12] For example, you could invite your roommate to go on a walk through town over the weekend, or ask the person who always sits next to you in chemistry class if they want to grab lunch or coffee with you sometime.

Remember that you’re not alone in how you’re feeling. Your classmates, roommates, and other people you encounter around campus are likely missing home, too. [13]