Whether you grew up in the suburbs of Boston or Shanghai, coming to Northeastern is a big deal. It signals the start of your life as an adult. And while that is likely something you have been craving for some time, there are challenges that come with the independence. One of the biggest that students frequently face is homesickness. Sometimes students miss home the second their family drives away on move-in day. For others, it can start to set in after the excitement of the start of the semester starts to fade. Either way, missing your family, your friends, your hometown, your dog, your bed, all of those things that make you feel comfortable and safe, is completely normal. And there are ways to work through it.
1) You Are Not Alone. Ask around. There is a good chance feeling homesick is something many of your friends are feeling, but just not talking about. Tell people how you’re feeling and you might be surprised to learn how well they can relate. Sometimes it can help just to describe what you are missing to someone who has never been to where you are from. Take the time to learn about what your friends are missing about home too. It may turn out you’re both missing the pizza from home and inspire a trip to the North End for a slice of Regina’s. (You should totally do that anyway.)
2) Get Involved. We know. Since Orientation everyone at Northeastern has shouted “GET INVOLVED!” at you. It’s the campus mantra. But for good reason. Studies show that students who are involved on campus have a more positive college experience. They feel more connected to campus. When you are feeling disconnected from one home, getting involved at your other home can make all the difference. Maybe you are really missing your musical theater friends from high school. Find a theater group on campus. Maybe you want to try something new. Look into broomball. (Seriously.) Run for Hall Council. Audition for an a capella group. Join Generation Citizen. The choices can be overwhelming and it’s ok to take your time to really explore your options. Either way, there are so many ways to make your mark while growing new roots on campus.
3) Plan a Visit. If you are from a short distance from campus and homesick, it can be very tempting to pack a suitcase and head home on the weekends. And while there may be situations where that is the best choice, challenging yourself to stay on campus is usually the way to go. Socializing on the weekends is how you make friends, explore the city, and build a support system. Then, after a few weeks into the semester, plan a visit. Whether that means booking a train ticket home or showing your friends and family around Boston, having something planned on your calendar gives you something to look forward to.
4) Get Support. In some cases, homesickness can start to distract you from the things you need to do. If you feel like you are unable to focus on your work or have an overall feeling of sadness you can’t shake, there is help. Talk to people you feel close with on campus. Your RA or RD. Your Academic Advisor. Make an appointment to talk to someone at University Health and Counseling Services. They’re at northeastern.edu/uhcs and have counselors who are great resources when you’re feeling homesick. You don’t have to go through it alone.
For most people, the feeling of missing home will eventually be balanced with a new found love for the college life. It’s ok to both miss where you came from and be excited about where you are. Take care of yourself, have a little fun, and set up a FaceTime date. It gets better.