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How To Deal With Homesickness During College

8/28/2018
Homesickness is more than the concept of missing home or missing family – it is the feeling of longing and feeling out of place. Whether they are in or out-of-state or studying in a foreign country, not only are students experiencing a new phase of life, but they are also at a new school, in a different state or a new country.

 
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One of the main causes for distress in students is homesickness. Over 30 percent of college students experience low-level of homesickness and about 69 percent of first year college students experience severe homesickness (UCLA Higher Education Institute).

Homesickness is more than the concept of missing home or missing family – it is the feeling of longing and feeling out of place. Whether they are in or out-of-state or studying in a foreign country, not only are students experiencing a new phase of life, but they are also at a new school, in a different state or a new country.

Although it is normal to feel homesick, wanting to go enjoy a home-cooked meal with the family or not having to deal with adult responsibilities and academic pressures, it may grow drastically. Homesickness builds in waves and can turn into more severe mental disorders, if not taken seriously.

Tips For Overcoming Homesickness

Some preventative measures can be taken by both parents and students to help overcome homesickness.

 Students Studying Away From Home
  • Students should stay engaged in campus activities. Many colleges organize welcome week events to help students assimilate to the college culture.
  • Students should establish and stick to a daily routine, even though it may be difficult to stay on track with exams and events coming up at every corner.
  • Feeling homesick is a normal behavior, as long as the student can handle the situation. To help battle feelings of loneliness, a student may keep a family picture on their study table, video-chat often or write letters to family and friends back home.
  • Students could help efficiently allocate their time by selecting small rewards for themselves. For example, after the submission of an important assignment or exam, they should take some time to do something fun or treat themselves with something they like.
  • If campus is only a drive away from home, students and parents can plan a few weekends throughout the academic year to visit each other on campus, at home or meet at a halfway-point.
  • When packing for college, students could take some of their favorite room decorations to make their new room feel more like home.
  • Often, students are unaware of the services available to them to help cope with homesickness. Students should never shy from seeking advice from a trusted adult on campus about such services.
Students Studying Abroad
  • Students who study abroad are more likely to feel homesick as they often are forced to assimilate with a whole new culture and lifestyle, learn to speak a new language, and meet people from various backgrounds.
  • A challenge while studying abroad is knowing who and where to address concerns and ask questions. Before departure and upon arrival, it is good to create a reference list with the names, contact details and roles of the individuals that will be helpful during the student’s stay.
  • Schools will often have an international student department who will organize welcoming and on-boarding events. Students should make sure to attend those activities.
  • Many international programs now have Facebook groups where former and new students can exchange tips and experiences. Joining such groups can help make connections prior to leaving home.
  • Making friends with people from their country of origin can help students. When missing home, plan to spend time together and have a meal, making them feel a little closer to home.
How Assist America Can Help
  • Assist America provides various services that are proven to be useful and reassure students studying out-of-state or abroad and their parents. 
  • Assist America often helps students find where and how they will be able to refill certain prescriptions before they even leave home, so they can plan their departure with peace of mind.
  • Students who know they will need to see a physician while being away from home can call Assist America for referrals.
  • Assist America provides emergency telephonic trauma counseling for students, with referrals for follow-up sessions with specialists.
  • Students going to a foreign country can use the Pre-Trip Information tool on Assist America’s website and the Mobile App to familiarize themselves with their destination.