COPING WITH HOMESICKNESS
Each year thousands of students leave home for the first time to go to university. Beginning life at university naturally generates both excitement and anxiety about the move, academic work, and meeting with new people. For some, this apprehension is quickly overcome as they adapt to a new environment; for others the transition takes longer and sometimes emerges as homesickness where there is a preoccupation with home-focused thoughts. Homesickness is one of the most common adjustment problems experienced by students, particularly new students, who are moving away from home for the first time.
Some students may start by being mildly depressed and anxious several weeks before leaving home in anticipation of a major change in their lives. Some will experience homesickness within the first days or weeks. Others may find themselves feeling homesick for the first time late in the semester, perhaps after the holiday break or even as late as the start of the second academic year.
Those who experience homesickness might notice an increase in depressed feelings, anxiety, obsessive thoughts and minor physical ailments. Homesickness can often be distinguished from depression in this way: in depression sufferers find both university and home awful, whereas in homesickness university can feel awful while home may be seen in rose-tinted hues.
Almost everyone experiences some homesickness at some point in his or her life. You are not immune because you have been away before and felt all right.
Vulnerability to feeling homesick can be affected by:
- The distance from home
- A sense of anticlimax at arriving, having worked hard for so long
- Whether it was your decision to come
- Unhappiness due to expectations not being met
- Feeling out of control with the work load
- Differences in lifestyle, especially when coming from another culture
A Few Tips to Cope with Homesickness
• Acknowledge that you are feeling homesick. It is a very natural and common response
for students who leave home. Remember that many other students are sharing similar
feelings, even though they may not tell you about it.
• Talk to someone. If you have not yet made friends here, then set up an appointment time to meet with a staff member at the ISSS, Dual Diploma office or a counselor at the Counseling Center. You might also want to meet with the head of your faith community, if you are a member of one.
• Keep in touch with people at home and fix a time to go back but place a limit on telephone usage. Tell or write to them about your activities and experiences.
• Plan a date to go home and make arrangements. This helps to curtail impulsive home visits and helps ease the adjustments process.
• Put up some photos of home, family and friends on your bulletin board. Mix the photos with photos of your favorite campus buildings, activities, or events and new friends you have made at Binghamton.
• Establish a routine as soon as possible. The fuller your days are, the less time you will have to feel homesick or lonely.
• Make contacts and friends through shared activities such as sport or other interests.
There are so many clubs and societies within the university and city, that you are
very likely to find something that suits your particular interests. At the start of
the academic year many new people will be joining - you are unlikely to be the only
• Get to know the Binghamton University campus and the surrounding Binghamton community. Take a friend and explore interesting things to do and places to see. Share what you have learned with family and friends back home.
Be realistic about what to expect from student life and from yourself. Establish a balance between work and leisure: you are NOT expected to work ALL the time - you would soon burn out. On the other hand, if you don't put in enough time on work, you can very quickly get behind, which only adds to the stresses! Find a balance and take time to relax in the way best suited to you.
Check these web sites :
* Harpur Film Society: http://www2.binghamton.edu/cinema/harpur-film.html
* Late Nite Binghamton: http://latenite.binghamton.edu/
* Anderson Center for the arts: http://anderson.binghamton.edu/
* For theatre and movie listings in the area: http://www.fandango.com/TheaterListings.aspx?location=13905&source=cityzipsearch
* Convention and Visitor's Bureau: http://www.binghamtoncvb.com/
• Remember to get enough food and sleep. Proper rest and nutrition are important to emotional as well as physical well-being
• Overcoming homesickness is a gradual process for most. Give yourself time to adjust, it won't happen overnight! If your homesickness persists and it interferes with your academic performance or social relationships, consider talking with a counselor in the Counseling Center. The Counseling Center is located diagonally across from the main entrance of the Glenn G. Bartle Library. Tel: (607) 777-2772.
This information has been compiled by the ISSS staff from the following websites:
- The Unabridged Student Counseling Virtual Pamphlet Collection http://www.dr-bob.org/vpc/