College students leave a lot more than just family behind when moving out of the house for the first time. They leave their familiar culture, safe spaces and social groups to dive into a new environment where they’re expected to function properly. The separation anxiety developed from this experience is commonly referred to as homesickness.
Homesickness finds its way to nearly everyone on campus at some point, and it’s easy to let it become debilitating. During this time, it is important for college students to be more socially active and involved with the campus because depression can become an issue.
“Homesickness is a feeling of longing and desire for familiar environments,” said assistant professor of human communications studies Tara Suwinyattichaiporn. “That’s why they say you are missing home, because that’s the familiar environment where you feel the most connected, happiest and have social support.”
Recreating the exact setting of home is impossible. Nothing can replace the feeling of home since it has been a major part of the student’s life, but creating a friendly environment is achievable and necessary.
It can be challenging for some, but crafting another familiar environment to establish social support is vital to overcoming homesickness. The first step in obtaining social support is to become socially interactive.
There are over 375 different clubs and organizations that focus on various topics and needs for students at CSUF. Picking a club results in meeting and surrounding oneself with other students with a common interest, in turn making it easier to find a second home.
“You have to first feel more socially connected to others in that new environment,” Suwinyattichaiporn said. “It would mean immersing yourself in social meetup groups, going to university events, school gyms and joining different clubs.”
Establishing a familiar environment will eliminate the feeling of isolation. While being socially active and engaged with others, students are also learning their new culture, people and environment.
Speaking out in classes and participating is a good way to interact with others without having to step out into an unfamiliar environment. It might be easier to sit back and quietly make one’s way through classes but that’s not what college is about.
Suwinyattichaiporn recommends that students take the initiative and say “Hi” to those sitting around them in class, rather than staying isolated on their phones. The feeling of social disconnectedness is a big factor in fueling homesickness.
“Having that social connection with people is the solution to homesickness,” Suwinyattichaiporn said.
Making social connections within class also offers other benefits. A student now has the option to study with someone else or to study alone, depending on their preference.
Creating new relationships is just as important as maintaining old relationships. It is highly recommended to moderately keep in contact with family members and familiar friends.
Students should gradually decrease the number of phone calls to family and friends back home starting the first week of school. Instead, homesick students should write longer, more well thought out letters to family and friends with less frequency than the texts and calls they were sending before, according to Allegheny College’s website.
Reducing the quantity of messages sent and raising the quality of the messages sent can help alleviate the feeling of homesickness among college students over time.
Depression is never an easy obstacle to overcome and should never be wished upon anyone. Fight against depression and homesickness by getting involved with one of the many clubs offered on campus. Spark conversation whenever possible in class or in public. Following all these tips can hopefully lower feelings of disconnectedness among students.