Homesickness is part and parcel of every student's life when attending college for the first time. There is no escaping this however much one might deny this. However, this homesickness that newcomers experience varies depending on a lot of factors, some of them being the personality, habits, traits, likes or dislikes and strengths of the person in question or even the fact that they might have been in a boarding school prior to this.
There are many ways for a student to adapt to college or deal with homesickness. They may range from simple activities like making friends with their roommate or in extreme cases - get help from a counselor.
A student's dorm room is the place that will eventually be the most comfortable place away from home. In order to help with this situation, the student should first get to know his / her roommate (if any). One's personal life and personal space freedom will depend a lot on the interaction of the two or more roomies. Make an added effort to be cordial, friendly and supportive. Chances are, the other roommate might also be experiencing the same feeling of homesickness.
One effective way for new college students to overcome homesickness is by making their room reflects a part of their home. It could be a rug or a blanket, or perhaps a bunch of flowers or an ashtray. Simple things from home can give a feeling of security, whereby the freshman adapts to changes and overcomes homesickness easily. Gifts from parents are some of the most common items that people treasure when they first enter college. It makes them feel that their parents / family are with them during this important step.
An extrovert can easily make friends in no time and this helps adapting to college seem a piece of cake. However, an introvert might shy away from making friends too fast and cling on to old sentiments of times before college days or be on the lookout for a person of similar traits. It is not an easy phase and may vary from days to weeks of homesickness. In the bargain, there may be difficult personalities to deal with like bullies, teasers, mischief-makers etc. Dealing with the new changes of college life coupled with stress and a new environment, it is advisable that a new student befriends others so that he / she may feel safe, comfortable and encouraged to stay positive.
One way to tide over the feeling of homesickness is to stay busy. There are many programs in college that cater to the talents, interests and choices of students. It might be sports, drama, science, politics, some new religion spark, or perhaps even fashion. Staying active, busy and occupied will help overcome feelings of loneliness and depression.
Although this should not be overdone, a homesick student should stay in touch with family so that one does not sink into despair, depression or make rash decisions. Family support is essential and the student has to be assured that he / she is able to make it through this phase and that they are mentally strong for this challenge. Half the time, there are misconceptions about college life that a student starts out with all sorts of ideas that may not be true. While parental / family support is essential, the freshman should be given the chance to start out independently away from home.
In case of any form of difficulty, the student should be aware that the residence assistant is there to help. It is always a good idea to get to know who one's floor assistant is. Stay on friendly terms and seek help if necessary.
Adapting to college can be a big step for many a freshman, and getting over homesickness may not be an easy task. With the increase in the amount of violence on the college campuses and abuse of all forms, new college student can get into severe depression and / or do something rashly. Such a student should be taken to a counselor or willingly consult a counselor who will help handle the situation.
College life is not fun for many a newcomer. The years at home with parents / family in most cases might have been safe and secure (despite financial strains / family relationships / home settings) and the environment of the college can be traumatizing and scary for one who just steps foot in. Education and awareness can help students overcome this college homesickness syndrome making them feel at home in their new surroundings at the earliest.
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