The first year of college is a big transition for 18-year-olds. Saying goodbye to friends, your hometown, siblings, parents and even your pets is no easy task.
But while leaving for college is a major life change, it’s also an exciting adventure that opens new doors and creates new opportunities for you to meet new people, make new friends and learn more about yourself.
The most important thing to remember as you’re unpacking your bags is that all of the people around you are in the exact same boat. There is no reason to be nervous or uncomfortable trying to meet new people.
Whenever the feeling of homesickness creeps in and you begin to wish you were in your own bedroom back home, the best thing to do is keep yourself busy. Call up a friend and go to a movie, go get lunch together, grab a cup of coffee or hang out in the lounge. When you keep yourself preoccupied, you completely forget about whatever is going on at home; staying busy is the easiest way to shrug off homesickness.
Another good way to adapt to college life is to make your room as homey as possible. At first, your empty room may seem a bit cold and unwelcoming; most freshmen dorms aren’t exactly the Ritz-Carlton. But there are lots of easy ways to transform your room into a comfortable, relaxing place to do homework, hang out and sleep.
Bring pictures of your family, friends and pets from home to frame and keep around the room. You can put them on your desk, on a countertop or even on the wall with a piece of tape. Posters are also a nice way to get rid of the white space surrounding you. Bring some from home so it resembles your room or buy some new ones that express your personality and make you feel more comfortable.
Other good options include colorful or stylish rugs (most of which are cheap at places like Target and Wal-Mart) and different types of chairs that give you an extra place to sit while also making your room a bit cozier. Turning your room into a place where you’re more at ease — a home away from home — will help make the transition to college life much easier.
Most colleges have some kind of counseling service for students who are feeling homesick, so don’t hesitate to give them a call or stop by their office. They are often located on campus to help and they’re professionals, so there’s no one better to talk to. You’re not alone in feeling homesick from time to time, so be sure to talk to your friends about it; they might be feeling the same way.
Some other good ways to deal with homesickness include exercising, listening to music and taking advantage of student events on campus like concerts, outdoor trips and club sports teams. All of these will help you feel more connected to your college.
And lastly, don’t be afraid to call home. There’s no shame in phoning your parents just to check in and hear their voices. Keep in touch, but don’t focus too much on home, because chances are that when you’re back for Thanksgiving or Winter Break, you’ll be wishing you were back on campus.
Austin Cook is a sophomore at Wake Forest University from Lancaster, Pa. Austin plans to major in political science with a double minor in journalism and French. He is currently the news editor for the university’s student newspaper, the Old Gold & Black. Austin is a passionate writer who also loves playing with his dogs Chloe and Sammy, tennis and debating politics.