Report: What Colleges Should Know About Teletherapy and How to Pick the Best Telehealth Vendor for Your Students
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By Joanna Nesbit and Lauren Patetta
College—especially the first few weeks—can be exciting and busy, but it can also feel a little lonely as you try to adjust to a new environment with new people and new expectations. Many schools try to make the transition as smooth as possible by offering social events for new students, but it’s completely understandable if you still find yourself missing home.
Research suggests 94% of students experience college homesickness during the first 10 weeks of college, and many still experience homesickness at different times during their education. Each student experiences homesickness differently. Some feel nostalgic about certain places or people, but it can also manifest as feelings of anxiety, sadness, or irritability. Whatever you’re feeling, homesickness is something many people experience. Whether home is 10 miles away or in another country, there are concrete steps you can take to deal with homesickness in college.
This may seem obvious, but staying connected with your loved ones from home is one of the best ways to keep homesickness at bay. It’s easy to get swept up in everything going on during your first few weeks of the semester, which can lead to missing your loved ones from home even more when you have more time to yourself.
Develop a plan to keep in touch, even if you don’t feel homesick at that moment. It can prevent difficult or overwhelming emotions from springing up on you, and it creates an expectation that you will be in touch so the contact feels natural when you really need it.
You can stay connected in other ways, such as:
It’s easier to adjust to a new environment when you have a routine to fall back on. Part of what makes the transition to college so daunting is the sudden change in the routine you’ve known all your life. To get your bearings and find a sense of normalcy, find and stick to a routine for at least the first few weeks. You may also find it helpful to add an aspect of your old routine to your new one, bringing something familiar to your new daily life.
Your class schedule will shape much of your routine, but some other activities you may want to consider working into it include:
Pick a few activities to have as your constants—things you do every day to help you get settled. It’s easy to overbook yourself, but taking time in your routine to relax and check in with yourself will help not just homesickness, but also your overall mental wellness.
Finding your community is one of the best ways to take care of your emotional well-being. College can be a chance to find a community for yourself that you’ve never had before—a community you get to pick for yourself.
It may not be easy to find at first, but most colleges make it easy to explore your options. Campus organizations will probably host an involvement fair early in the semester, which will showcase the many clubs and extracurricular activities the school has to offer. The fairs are often the best way to find your community, because you can connect with other students who have similar interests.
Some ways you can engage more socially might be:
Finding affinity groups whose members share your racial or ethnic background can be especially important if you are experiencing homesickness related to not being in the majority of the student body. Research has shown that international students experience more discrimination and homesickness than their American peers, and that students of color and female-identified students also experience disproportionate levels of homesickness. There are lots of reasons for it, including discrimination and isolation that may contribute to homesickness, and it’s understandable to be upset by these circumstances. Finding an affinity group may be beneficial, but if discrimination or prejudice is contributing to your sense of isolation, know that it’s not your fault and support is always available.
If you’ve faced discrimination or prejudice, you can report it to the appropriate campus office or staff member. This might be the Dean of Students office, the President’s Office, or a dean of an academic department if the incident occurred in class.
Whether you’re in a city or a small town, college campuses will almost certainly have something fun to explore. It’s important—especially when you’re feeling down—to avoid being isolated all the time. Be on the lookout for chances to:
Can’t find anything interesting? Check out the local library! Libraries often advertise community events both at their locations and online. Some may even have discounted passes for different activities around town. You can also check social media to find popular local spots.
Also take time to locate the necessities, such as the grocery store and pharmacy. Asking a new roommate or dorm neighbor to join you can even help make it fun.
You may feel pressured to be everywhere and do everything, but sometimes you need to lie in bed, put on a comforting show, and eat some ice cream from the campus convenience store. Try to find time when your roommate is out so you can have some quiet time to sit with your feelings. If your roommate is seemingly always around, find a quiet place on campus. There may be a comfy corner in your dorm building that no one has discovered yet, or a study space that doesn’t see much traffic. Libraries also sometimes allow you to rent a study room for yourself if you need time totally to yourself.
Homesickness is a difficult part of the college journey, but it’s a natural feeling. Give yourself time, and remember to be kind to yourself.
If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone right now, text, call, or chat 988 for a free confidential conversation with a trained counselor 24/7.
You can also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.
If this is a medical emergency or if there is immediate danger of harm, call 911 and explain that you need support for a mental health crisis.