As I stuffed my clothes into my closet the day I moved into Olds Residence, I remember feeling like I was Joan of Arc, ready to march forth into the world and conquer anything and everything in my path.
Then I had to hug my mom goodbye. When she let go of me and drove away in our family van, I felt a lot less like Joan of Arc and a lot more like… Eeyore. Homesickness had me down pretty much immediately. I didn’t sleep that night, and even though things got a lot better very quickly, I still wanted my room and my house and my family and my dog.
You probably understand the feeling. Know that it gets better with time and a little effort. I still feel a twinge of homesickness every now and then, as most my upperclassmen friends do. Here’s our best advice to get you over the homesickness hump.
Wait it out
When it feels like homesickness has set a fog over your entire day, you might consider trying to ignore it. Senior art and English major Patrick Lucas said he longs for his hometown of Sagamore Hills, Ohio, once in a while, but he chooses to focus on other things in lieu of dwelling on nostalgia.
“I don’t think about it,” Lucas said. “I just think about what’s in front of me.”
It’s not always healthy to apply this tactic to your problems, especially emotional qualms. But press with your day on if a sudden gloom of homesickness capsizes you as briefly as it does infrequently.
Choose to be present
Sometimes the pain of wanting to go home is too acute to treat with a blind eye. Senior Greek major Emily Barnum recommends a more intentional method.
“I think it’s good to acknowledge feelings, but choose to be present wherever you are,” Barnum said.
You may miss a lot about home: your mom’s banana bread, your dog Spot, your favorite chair on the back porch. But there are plenty of things to grow fond of here in Hillsdale, and soon you’ll be missing those things whenever you’re home. Try one of Rough Draft’s delicious muffins, volunteer at the local animal shelter, and find a tree over at Baw Beese Lake to enjoy the great outdoors.
“When I was overseas this past summer, I would journal how I felt, but then shift to focus on building relationships with those immediately around me,” Barnum said. “I also tried to identify the joyous little things unique to my current place. It also helped to imagine sharing them with those I loved back at home.”
Strategize communication with friends and family back home
One of the toughest parts of going away to college is making new friends. This is also one of the very best elements Hillsdale offers. While you may become fast friends with your next door neighbor in your dorm or with the kid dozing off next to you in Western Heritage, you’re still going to miss those pals who have known you for your whole dang life.
When senior politics major English Hinton moved to Hillsdale from Florida, she and her best friend were determined to stay in touch. The pair scheduled FaceTime dates and phone calls, and made sure to stay in contact as frequently as possible, even if that meant a two-minute chat on the phone while one of them walked to the library. Hinton said she finds moments to catch up with her friend between classes, waiting for coffee dates, or even just walking to her car.
“Rather than scrolling through Instagram for 10 minutes or listening to your headphones, just call your best friend,” Hinton said.
Everyone knows the importance of “putting yourself out there” as you enter Hillsdale’s social scene, but no one needs the advice literally every single mom on the planet gives. Do try to meet lots of new people. But when you click with someone, don’t be afraid to open up and share what you’re going through, from homesickness to stress.
Senior history major Reuben Blake said he hasn’t dealt with a lot of homesickness since his family moved so much when he was young, but he has felt the transformative power of strong friendships at Hillsdale nonetheless.
“Finding friends who are okay with my mess and push me deeper into spiritual maturity has been invaluable,” Blake said.
Let it out
When all else fails — and trust me, all else will fail — dig your head into the softest pillow you own and unleash a few minutes or (let’s be real) a few hours of sobs.
For junior English major Molly Kate Andrews, whose home in Washington state is a two-day road trip away, this tip has eased her homesickness more than any other.
“Stay busy, plug in with your friends, call home on the weekends, and cry. Definitely cry. It feels so good,” Andrews said.