Homesickness 101: UT Experts Offer Advice for Dealing with this Normal Woe

You’ve arrived on campus and you’re excited, nervous, busy, and, maybe, a little bit homesick.

Don’t worry, it’s normal.

“Many students leaving home for college feel some level of sadness and longing for home,” said T. Paul McAnear, director of clinical services at UT’s Student Counseling Center. “Missing loved ones and friends is normal. It means that those relationships and experiences are meaningful and hard to lose. Problems arise when homesickness becomes so intense that it interferes with adjustment to the university environment.”

McAnear and his colleagues at UT’s Student Counseling Center offer these tips for avoiding or managing homesickness:

  • Stay in touch with loved ones. Thanks to electronic communication and social networking, communicating with those at home can be nearly seamless. Try to call home when you’re feeling positive. It’s easy to get into the habit of calling when you have a problem and this may only accentuate the problems, both in your mind and the minds of your family members.
  • Build a new social network. While it’s fine to stay connected with family, make a point of building new friendships on campus. Spend most of your social time each day with people on campus and connect with folks back home no more than once a day, except in emergencies.
  • Think positively. If you’re feeling homesick, you’re probably convinced that home was better than campus. You are remembering the good parts of home and ignoring the bad. Turn the table on homesickness. Think positively. Notice the good and ignore the bad. Focus on what you enjoy about college—the people you’ve met, the experiences you’ve had, and all of the things you’re looking forward to doing.
  • Stick around on weekends. Frequent trips home may actually worsen the stress of adjusting to campus. Adjusting to college life requires care and cultivation, time and commitment.
  • Make occasional trips home. Again, the key is balance. Going home for a home-cooked meal and extra sleep in a familiar bed can be rejuvenating.
  • Get enough rest. Meeting new people and doing new things can be fun but also exhausting. Try to get eight hours of sleep nightly. Routinely getting fewer than six hours of sleep may contribute to persistent fatigue and irritability and may exacerbate problems with coping.
  • Stay active and engaged. Get active on campus doing something you enjoyed at home—exercising, socializing, gaming, shopping, reading, etc. Soon enough, the new environment will feel like home.

Finally, if you’ve tried these tips and you’re still feeling bad, seek help.

Sometimes, feelings of sadness and loneliness can become overwhelming and last longer than a few days. This is especially true if you are worried about family conflicts, divorce, family health problems, job loss, financial crisis, or other situations. If this is the case, discuss your concerns with a staff person like a resident advisor, faculty advisor, or another trusted person.

At UT, more specialized help can be found at the Student Health Center, 1800 Volunteer Blvd. Call 974-3648 for appointments or call 974-3135 for information.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, ablakely@utk.edu)

Be Sociable, Share!