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Homesick in College? One Freshman’s Story about Conquering Loneliness

I’ve been dealing with an acute case of homesickness since I got to college. When my dad left, I spent all day holding back tears thinking about his departure and when we finally said goodbye, I had a meltdown.

Since then, it’s been intermittent. When I am alone, I can feel overwhelmed by my situation: I won’t see my family until Christmas; we are separated by an ocean, and I’m alone in a foreign country. Study abroad homesickness seems particularly intense.

I feel so isolated with my feelings. No one talks about being homesick at college freshman year. No intro goes: “Hi, I’m Emma. I’m from Cleveland and I cried in my room last night because I miss home.” Also, being in a foreign country adds a geographic distance and a time difference. Study abroad homesickness can’t be cured by stopping home. Lastly, I don’t have any planned visits during the semester like my flatmates do, and I’m jealous.

Now that I am away, I’m surprised by what I miss about home. It’s not so much the actual place, but rather the interactions I had grown to depend on. I’d talked things through with my mom, and I miss that outlet at the end of the day. I miss having my little sister come with me places when I don’t want to go alone. I miss having my dad checking in to make sure everything is okay.

I’ve decided to write about homesickness because I have found little solace online.  And now that I’ve figured out a few helpful things, I thought I should share them.

Homesickness Cures

1. Reach out to your friends.

I wrote a melodramatic message to my best friends from home. While they are also starting their freshman year, they are several weeks ahead of me because my school started later. They also felt homesick in the beginning, but I was comforted to learn that once classes started and they met more people, they felt a lot better. Also, now that my friends know I’m having a hard time, they have been texting and Tweeting a lot more. I know my friends couldn’t sense I was homesick, and I’m so glad I came clean.

2. Stay in touch.

I’ve been e-mailing my grandmother, a family friend, and some of my high school teachers. I wrote a stack of postcards to send home to my uncles, the kids I babysit, and my friends. Keeping in touch with lots of different people gives me something to do and leaves me with a few return messages.

3. Get out of your dorm.

So far I have kept my act together outside of my room. It’s only when I’m by myself that I really indulge in my homesickness. Even though I often feel homesick when I’m out, I am better able to let the feeling pass when I’m afraid of embarrassing myself in public.

4. Stay busy.

Being busy distracts me. This is the golden rule for dealing with homesickness. Even though I don’t know anyone very well, going out at night or to a movie with a flatmate or spending all day at information sessions for new students are excellent distractions from feeling homesick. These activities also let you meet new people and learn more about your new town.

Hopefully over the next couple of months, I’ll establish a routine I can depend on and I’ll meet more people who share my interests. However, I know I’ll still have to deal with homesickness from time to time: I’m missing birthdays and holidays. I’m sad right now just thinking about it but I’m optimistic. I’m counting on regular Skype sessions with my family and hopeful my new friends will soon make St. Andrews feel like home.

Emma Freer attended Ruffing Montessori and Laurel School in Cleveland, Ohio. Emma gave the senior speech at her high school graduation.

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