Being a freshman starting college can be intimidating in itself, but adding the distance of hundreds of miles between you and your home creates an additional obstacle that I believe should be discussed more frequently. Being an out-of-state freshman entails a whirlwind of emotions.
For me, the ache tends to set in when the leaves start to fall, T-shirts are exchanged for sweaters, the air turns colder, and the desire for a home-cooked meal by your mom becomes overwhelming (and somehow, it never tastes the same when you attempt to recreate it at school). It also hits during birthdays when you find yourself talking to your family through a screen, hundreds of miles away, watching them blow out their candles on FaceTime, and you can't help but wish you were there with them at that moment.
I believe it's crucial to address these feelings of longing for your hometown even when amazing and exciting things are happening at school. How can you miss home when all these fun experiences are taking place here? Understanding the concept of homesickness can be challenging, but what helped me was acknowledging the times I felt far from home and finding ways to cope with it. If you're anything like me, this list can help you navigate the turbulence of homesickness as an out-of-state student (or even an in-state one).
Getting Involved: One thing that has greatly assisted me in adjusting to a school far from home is getting involved. The more organizations you join, the more friends you can make, and you can build a community at school that eventually feels like a second home.
Noticing a Pattern: When dealing with homesickness, it's crucial to identify patterns and take action. As mentioned earlier, knowing which seasons or moments might trigger feelings of homesickness is helpful. For me, being from New York, it was the onset of colder weather, holidays, and birthdays. As a junior, I've developed various strategies to prevent or minimize this feeling, including setting aside time daily (or weekly) to call my family, planning my next trip home with a countdown, journaling about my emotions, and keeping busy with friends and academics.
Finding Comfort in Independence: Changing the narrative from loneliness to gratitude for independence can be transformative. I understand the transition from a full house with five family members and two dogs to a dorm with just one roommate can be challenging. However, viewing it as an opportunity to find comfort in solitude has significantly aided me over the past few years.
Branching Out: In line with "Getting Involved," expanding your social circles to include diverse groups of people can help you avoid frequent homesickness. If you're constantly surrounded by people from your hometown, you may be reminded of it more often.
Acknowledging Gratitude: While homesickness and loneliness can be overwhelming, it's essential to consider different perspectives. Shifting your viewpoint to one of gratitude can turn homesickness into a positive experience. I am so thankful for the opportunity to attend an outstanding school 500 miles from home.
This is a period of personal growth and flourishing for all freshmen. Being away from home is challenging for everyone, whether you're in-state or not. It's crucial to take pride in yourself for taking this step, regardless of the distance. If you want to go far, sometimes you have to venture far from home.