College 101: Your Survival Guide to Homesickness

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The beginning of college is a major change, an exciting yet challenging time for you. Many of you will enjoy the freedom of college; however, some of you might experience difficulties during the adjustment to college life, including homesickness.

UT’s Student Counseling Center offers these tips for helping you cope with feelings of homesickness:

  • Stay in touch with family and friends. Thanks to cell phones and social networking, staying in touch is easy. Call home when you are feeling positive. It’s easy to get into the habit of calling when you have a problem and this may worsen the problems, both for you and for family members.
  • Build a new social network. You should build new connections on campus. Consider spending most of your social time each day with people on campus and connect with folks back home once a day at most. Once a week is pretty typical except in emergencies.
  • Think positively. If you are homesick, you may be convinced that home is somehow better than campus. Try focusing on what you enjoy about college—the people you’ve met, the experiences you’ve had so far, and all of the things you’re looking forward to doing.
  • Stick around on weekends. Surprisingly, frequent trips home may actually worsen the stress of adjusting to campus. Too many trips home may enable you to avoid building a new life on campus.
  • Make occasional trips home. 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. You should try to get eight hours of sleep nightly. Routinely getting fewer than six hours of sleep may contribute to persistent fatigue and irritability, and increase problems with feeling homesick.
  • Stay active and engaged. You should get active on campus doing something you enjoyed at home—exercising, socializing, gaming, shopping, reading, etc. Soon enough, campus will feel like home.

If you have tried these tips and are still feeling homesick, you should seek extra support. Typically, the feelings last only a short time when you have support.

However, sometimes these feelings can last longer and become overwhelming. This is especially true if you are worried about family conflicts, divorce, family health problems, job loss, a financial crisis, or other situations at home. Discuss these concerns with your resident advisor, faculty advisor, or another trusted person.

Assistance can also be found at the Student Counseling Center, located in the Student Health Center, 1800 Volunteer Boulevard. Call 865-974-2196 or visit counselingcenter.utk.edu.

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The University of Tennessee • Knoxville, TN 37996 • (865) 974-2225