Going to college, especially out of state, can be a scary thing to experience. No matter how ready people may think they are to finally leave home, a lot of freshman go through a phase of homesickness. It’s hard to leave behind your family and enter into a completely new environment with a huge workload. People anticipate living on their own and meeting new friends and going to a bunch of parties, but often forget what they’re leaving behind: home-cooked meals, high school friends, your childhood best friend. These are a few tips on how to deal with being away from home and how to adjust to college life.
Get Involved Around Campus and Surrounding Area
During the first couple of weeks, most schools have an involvement fair, where they show off all the different clubs and organizations that the school has. Some clubs involve dancing and fitness, while others have to do with service and debates. Regardless, there is something for everyone. Getting involved on campus and joining a club can be super helpful and give you a sense of belonging when in a completely new environment. Join clubs that align with your interests or major. This will open the door for new and lasting friendships with people who share your interests. Finding your people on campus can help break you out of your shell and sooner or later, they become your home away from home. Cultural organizations are also super important; clubs such as the Black Student Union and Muslim Students Association offer a safe space for people who share the same background and are a place to be yourself and feel comfortable, especially if you are a minority at a predominantly white institution. And if you don’t find your place on campus, you can always explore options in the surrounding area. If you did a lot of community service at home, you can try finding a local soup kitchen or a daycare where you help children with reading.
But, Don’t Join Every Club
Although you should explore the clubs that draw your attention, make sure not to join every club during your first semester. Yes, maybe you’ve always wanted to try canoeing, but is now really the right time? You have four years to explore all your interests and don’t need to try and fit it into the first semester of college. Overwhelming yourself with ten different clubs can become a lot to handle and before you know it, you’re spreading yourself too thin and are stressed with juggling debate club, your biology lab, Greek life and your psych class. Leave yourself time to adjust and get comfortable with the campus and with your classes. And just because your friend is joining a club, it doesn’t mean that you do too (even if they try dragging you to the meetings.)
Allot Time to Take Care of Yourself
Mental health is super crucial in college. Being at college, it can be super easy to get caught up in everything going on around you with parties, school work and clubs. However, it is important to make time for yourself every once in a while. Set aside an hour or two a week to do as you please. Go to the gym, read a new book, walk around or off-campus listening to music. Maintaining a good mental state will make you feel better and do better in school overall. The major change can be very drastic and stressful, so even doing a face mask once a week while chilling in bed with a movie can help relieve some stress. You can even do things that you did back at home. If you danced in high school and your school has an empty space without desks and tables, you can go to that room at night and dance away your worries. Regardless of how you decide to use your you time, make sure you set some aside.
Find Your Spot
There are so many different places on campus that people never explore. Exploring your surroundings and finding a place in the area (on or off campus) that you can go to, to clear your head or study. It could be a local bookstore around the corner of your dorm, a small bookstore four blocks down, local monuments, or even a study room on campus. My university has a multicultural student services center where people go to study, take naps, or to even just talk. These places become safe spaces for when the workload gets immense and you need to get away for an hour or so.
Set Aside Time to Speak to Family
Leaving home and saying goodbye to your family and friends can be extremely hard, especially if you’ve never been away from home and are now moving hours away. Set aside time to call or FaceTime back home at least once a week or more. Share your experiences with them and let them know about the classes that you like or hate and the new friends that you’ve made. It’s okay to tell them if you’re struggling with being away from home. Sharing if you’re struggling academically or socially can help you get through your struggles, and you’ll find that talking with someone who you’re comfortable with was just what you needed.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up About It
Finally, it’s completely okay to miss home. It’s completely normal. Being away from what and who is normal for you, is a big change that will take some adjusting. Everyone is dealing with homesickness, whether or not they admit it, some more than others. Regardless, reminiscing about being home, doesn’t make you weak. Everyone adjusts at different rates and maybe you’ll be quicker or longer than others. Nonetheless, give yourself time to get over your homesickness and feel like you again.
Know you’re not alone.
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