The first couple months of my freshman year were a blur—a fast-paced, excitement-filled blur. Not only was I getting used to living in a different timezone than my family, but I was also adjusting to the intensity of college courses, balancing my time between volleyball and school work, and navigating the social scene on campus. Despite the small size of Naz, I was constantly trying to connect new names to unfamiliar faces, and thanks to volleyball games and practices, I often found myself pressed for time to study and finish homework assignments.
Though it was a little tough adjusting at first, slowly but surely, I started to get the hang of things. My hectic schedule became a comfortable pattern, little nooks and crannies on Naz’s campus became my favorite study spots, and people who were once strangers became my friends. Everything felt like it was falling into place.
Homesickness didn’t really catch up to me until November. In the beginning of the semester, I was distracted by the task of adjusting to the newness of everything to really miss home. But then volleyball season was suddenly over, and class registration and final exams were looming overhead. During this calm in the storm of new experiences, I had more time to overthink my decision to move so far away, and my excitement faded into anxiety and uncertainty.
Homesickness is more than just missing your family and wishing you could sleep in your own bed at night. It’s the ache you feel when you realize you’re not as comfortable as you were when you when you could navigate your environment with your eyes closed, surrounded by people who have known you for years. New challenges in an unfamiliar setting can make your confidence in yourself waver—even if you don’t choose a college that’s across the country. Most of my friends who only live thirty minutes away from Naz have admitted to feeling homesick. It’s not fun in the slightest, but it’s normal and completely beatable.
First, make sure to stay in touch with people from home. Thankfully, we live in an era where technology makes communication over long distances easy. I FaceTime my family at least once a week. Sometimes, we’ll talk and update each other on what’s going on in our lives; they’ll chase down my dog to put her on camera, and I’ll joke about getting a pet fish for my dorm room. Other times, I’ll just stay on camera and “hang out” with them while my parents are cooking and my siblings do homework. I also text and Snapchat my friends pretty frequently, and even though we’re terrible at keeping streaks, it’s a nice way to catch up. Holding onto your loved ones from home is a good way to alleviate homesickness, but latching on too tightly may do more harm than good.
As nice as it is to stay connected to your roots, the only way you’re really going to get over your homesickness is by embracing the sunlight—even if it does seem overwhelmingly bright at first. You’ve got to make the unfamiliar familiar. Despite my horrendous sense of direction, I managed to cultivate a pretty good understanding of the area around the Naz campus. There’s so much in this area to enjoy and help take my mind off the things I’m missing back home. I found plenty of amazing restaurants, located the nearest mall and grocery store, and discovered some of the best places to take pictures, pet dogs, and get ice cream. Getting to know your surroundings will help you feel a lot less small and lost.
This tidbit of advice also applies to your campus life. Last year, I was lucky enough to have the women’s volleyball team to welcome me to Naz and make the transition into college smoother. The other freshman and I found our footing together while the upperclassmen helped guide us through our first semester. College is a lot better when you find your niche and get involved in school sponsored activities. Not only is this a great way to make new friends with similar interests and schedules, but it will also keep you busy and distract you’re feeling homesick. It doesn’t have to be a sport either, Naz has a wide variety of clubs and activities to choose from!
The most crucial thing to remember when it comes to fighting homesickness is that it’s going to take time. This isn’t something that’s going to go away overnight and it won’t be an easy battle. But keep in mind that you’re not alone. Though it may strike people at different times and show it in different ways, everyone goes through bouts of homesickness. You’ve already got the support from your loved ones at home, and if you take the risk of opening up to your new friends and mentors, you’ll find that they understand and are willing to help you overcome it.