A Little On Homesickness?
It is not unusual for students to feel homesick at some point in their university experience. Beginning your experience here at the University of North Florida may generate excitement and anxiety about the move, academics, or meeting new people. Some students will quickly overcome this apprehension as they adapt to a new environment. For other students, the transition takes longer and sometimes emerges as homesickness. You miss, yearn for and grieve over the change from the familiar.
If you are homesick, you may notice an increase in depressed feelings, anxiety, obsessive thoughts, or even minor physical ailments. Some students may feel mildly depressed and anxious several weeks before leaving home, in anticipation of the impending change. Others may find themselves feeling homesick later in the academic year, even after Winter break or the start of their second year. But commonly it is the first few days or weeks after arriving at university which are the most difficult.
Vulnerability to homesickness is affected by:
- The distance from home
- A sense of anticlimax at finally arriving at college after working towards it for so long
- Whether the student was responsible for the decision to attend the college
- Unhappiness due to expectations of college being met
- Job strain (work overload and low control over it)
- Whether family members at home are well and happy
- Contrast in lifestyle
Those who are homesick often feel they have no control over their environment, and that they are not identified with it or committed to the university or their place in it.
Transition to College
There are two tasks involved in starting college:
- Leaving familiar things, people and places,
- Adapting to new things, people and places.
Individuals have different levels of tolerance to change and have learned different ways of coping with new situations. But what can make transition so hard? In a familiar place, people generally feel accepted and secure. Away from the familiar, they are without their usual sources of support, and in unfamiliar surroundings, their previous methods of coping and working are challenged.
What might help?
- Talk to someone. If you haven't yet made friends here, then try a counselor at our UNF counseling center, your RA, your roommate or a professor.
- Maintain relationships with those you left at home. Arrange times to go back and visit, perhaps after a few weeks. But also, don’t forget to give yourself time to get involved here. Don't let looking back actually hinder moving forward.
- Encourage friends and family to come and see you in your new setting (for example, during Parents and Family Weekend).
- Remember that many other people will have similar feelings, although you may assume that they are doing fine! (You can't read their minds - just as they can't read yours!)
- You are allowed to feel sad and homesick! But you are also allowed to enjoy yourself - it isn't being disloyal to those you miss!Osprey Clubhouse
- Be realistic about what to expect from student life and from yourself. Establish a balance between work and leisure. You don’t have 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!
- If work is too difficult, try to improve your study skills or your organization of time and work. There may be people in your classes or in your residence hall that can help in this area. We also offer Living-Learning Community.
- Remember to get enough food and sleep! These affect us emotionally as well as physically.
- Make contacts and friends through shared activities such as sport or other interests. Go to programs in your residence hall and on campus. Join a club.
- Give yourself time to adjust: you don't have to get everything right away. Give yourself some time.
- If you stop being able to do normal social and academic things, seek professional help either from your doctor or the counseling service. Don't wait until the problems have grown impossibly large!
We hope that some of these suggestions will prove useful. There are many things you can do to help yourself, but don't hesitate in seeking out the help of others. Homesickness is not unusual, and it can be conquered!
UNF Resources and A Few Things to Do on Campus
- Take advantage of the UNF counseling center and follow them on social media
- Take a walk around campus, it is beautiful!
- Attend events created by student staff, Residence Life Coordinators and campus partners
- Apply to be in a Living-Learning Community
- Attend FreshCheckDay in the Fall
- Take a break in Osprey Clubhouse
- Go to Market Days on Wednesdays in the Student Union
- Explore campus!
- Try one of many outdoor activities at EcoAdventure!
- Go rock climbing at the Student Wellness Complex
- Join a club!
Always Remember to:
- Connect to things you love.
- Try something new until you find something you like.
- Take advantage of a leadership opportunity.
- Help someone else, helping someone else might help you.
Remember to get involved around campus! Getting out of your room, exploring campus and the many things UNF has to offer as well as trying something new might help with homesickness.
*Partially adapted from the University of Cambridge, England