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Homesickness

You Can't Leave Home Without It

Homesickness is really about adjustment to a major life change.  Many people who are experiencing homesickness struggle with anxiety, sadness, nervousness, and frequent thoughts of home or aspects of homes like parents, animals, and siblings.  In college there are some unique symptoms.

Home Picture To recap:
•    Anxiety about separation from loved ones
•    Frequent thoughts of home or aspects of home like parents, friends, animals, and siblings.
•    Feelings of loneliness
•    Feeling sad
•    Wanting our close friends and family to be there and make us feel good.
Unique to college:
•    Anxiety about performance
•    Feeling different from others who seem like they are having a good time.
•    Low motivation to study or make friends.
Picture of Gate in the Entrance of Cougar Mall

Why do people feel homesickness?


  • Moving is a big change/adjustment and change will always create a challenge even positive change.
  • Here are some changes that CofC students have described to me
  • Almost everything is different: families, friends, familiar surroundings.
  • Their day is structured completely different than any other time in their school age lives.
  • There is less supervision which seems to mean less sense of a daily interest/investment in their lives.
  • The food is not familiar.
  • Their organized activities are gone.  This generation of children tends to have very busy calendars from grade school through college. 
  • They don’t have a car so they cannot get up and go places the same way as before.
  • The eating schedules, wake up schedules, bedtime schedules are all different.
  • Their rooms are totally different than they were at home (roommates and the appearance: (like comforters, bedstands, lamps, desks, and bathrooms). 
  •  Most of them have never shared a room with another for any length of time.
Sad College Student

Making it through Homesickness with Aplomb

  • Find familiarity in an unfamiliar place:
    • What did you enjoy doing at home?  Basketball, reading, watching a tv show, yoga…  Find those activities here at CofC. 
    • Have things in your room from your room at home. 
  • Give yourself a break and accept that this adjustment takes time because it is a new place and there is a lot of change. Be patient with yourself. 
  • Work with your negative thoughts (this is truly a lifelong skill)
    • We have known in psychology for a long time that negative thoughts about yourself, your future, and/or your new environment will intensify your unhappiness. 
      • If you find yourself thinking
I Don’t Fit in Here or I want to transfer
  • Replace it with:
This thought/these feelings are normal and I am going to give myself more time to adjust. 

Or

I can relax and take this one step at a time.  I have been sad/anxious before and felt better.
  • Find things to do at College of Charleston

  • If you are worried that this is more than homesickness the Counseling and Substance Abuse Services Website has a mental health screening program for College of Charleston students.
  • Talk to our wonderful PCs, an amazing group students that are eager, professional and trained in evidence supported therapeutic listening and crisis management skills by Hotline, our local suicide prevention line.  They are available Monday-Thursday from 5:00 pm until 9:00 pm in room 319 of the Robert Scott Small Building.  Students can get in contact with them in person, on the phone 953-7411 or they can chat.
  • Check out the link below to hear about homesickness from a student!

College Student Describing What They Wish They Knew Freshman Year

 

Top 10 Things I Wish I Knew My Freshman Year

Rachael McNamara, M.A.

Health Educator

Counseling and Substance Abuse Services

843-953-5640

mcnamarar@cofc.edu