Going to College When You’ve Never Been Away from Home

If we can take movies and TV shows as gospel, no one ever gets homesick at college. If anything, budding college first-year students are sick of being at home, under the watchful eye of their parents. At least, that’s what pop culture has taught us; reality is, of course, much more complicated.

You might be worried about getting homesick if you’ve never been away from home or away from your parents, or if you have a history of feeling queasy in those scenarios. Not everyone has the full experience of a college prep boarding school to help them truly know what to expect at university.

Before you turn into a ball of anxiety just thinking about move-in day, take heart! You can make some preparations the summer before college and take steps in the first few weeks to help ease feelings of homesickness.

During the Summer, Learn to Be Autonomous

If your parents have already prepared you for life on your own, you should be in the habit of doing your laundry, cooking meals, going to the store to get little things you need, and managing your money appropriately.

If not, the summer is your last chance to learn how to do these things and gain confidence while you still have your parents to lean on for support. Once you’re in college, you’ll be “thrown in the deep end” and will have to fend for yourself or experience the consequences.

When you know you’re capable of taking care of yourself, some of the anxiety should dissipate.

Go on a Road Trip

If you’ve genuinely never been away from your parents, spend a few days on a road trip. Drive to the next city, spend a few days there as a tourist, and then drive home again. Bring a friend for safety, but revel in the experience of having to handle things all on your own. Then, college won’t come as such a shock.

Try Your Best to Be Social During the First Few Weeks

Making new friends sometimes happens by serendipity: you and your future BFF happen to be at the same place at the same time, start talking, and the rest is history. Other times, it takes a lot of work to find the right crowd. Join clubs and take advantage of social opportunities during the first few weeks. Most universities offer plenty of events before classes start to serve as icebreakers.

Go to your classes a bit early and try to sit somewhere new each time until you find people with whom you enjoy chatting with. Make plans to get something to eat, to study together, to meet up in the dorms, etc.

If you feel homesick, talking can sometimes seem difficult. Throw caution to the wind and talk about anything light-hearted. If you feel fatigued, drink coffee to perk yourself up. When you have more energy, you’re more likely to smile, laugh, and be easy to talk to.

If Homesickness Lingers, You May Be at the Wrong School

While you may feel homesickness well up from time to time, you’re in the clear if you can forget your worries and enjoy yourself most of the time. If the semester finds you in a prolonged state of panic and isolation, perhaps transferring to a school closer to home would give you a solid foundation and base of emotional support to help you through the essential part of college: the rigorous coursework.