Are you homesick? Perhaps you occasionally feel like you don't fit in? This is normal, and although everyone may seem like they are super confident and happy, many other students are going through the same thing. Homesickness is not unusual and it can be overcome!
When you start at a new university in the U.S., you face three significant personal challenges:
- Leaving behind familiar routines, people, pets, and places
- Adapting to new routines, people, and places
- Speaking English, which is not your first language
What might help?
Try some of these tips to help overcome your homesickness, loneliness, or feelings of not belonging.
Talk to someone. Talk with your roommate or a friend. If you haven't yet made friends here, then try a counselor or contact your program director.
Get out of your room or apartment. It's incredibly easy to hide in your room at the university. But doing so prevents you from meeting new people, trying new things, and experiencing university life in general. Make sure you spend time out of your room—even if it's just at the University Center, in your floor lounge, the library, or the beach—and get your mind on other things.
Call/Skype home. This may sound like common sense, but it can really help. The key factor, however, is not to call home all of the time. A few times a week is a good amount because it keeps you in the loop, but doesn't take away from your experience here. Keep the conversation positive,, but if you miss your friends, family, or partner, calling, seeing, and speaking with them can sometimes help ease the heartache.
Encourage friends and family to come and see you (if possible) in your new setting.
You are not the only homesick student at UCSB! Remember that many other people will be sharing 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! You are also allowed to be happy—it isn't being disloyal to those you miss!
Establish a balance between study and leisure: you are NOT expected to work ALL the time—you would soon burn out. On the other hand, if you do not set aside enough time to study, you can very quickly get behind, which only adds to the stress!
Is time management a challenge? If keeping up with study and homework are proving too difficult, maybe you need to change your study skills, or improve your time management. This can help you feel more satisfied with what you do.
Remember to get enough food and sleep! These affect us emotionally as well as physically.
Make contacts and friends in class on campus and through shared activities, sport clubs, or interest groups. There are many clubs and societies within the university and the surrounding community, you are sure to find something that suits your particular interests. Many new people will also be joining—you will not to be the only new person.
Give yourself time to adjust: Take time—you don't have to get everything right straight away (nor do you have to rush into making major decisions about staying or leaving).
Seek Professional Help
If your homesickness or challenges interfere with your academic or personal well-being, seek help. Contact the following:
- UCSB Social Work Services
- Location: Student Health Center, UCSB campus
- Call: (805) 893-3087 for an appointment
Note: Your first visit is free (no cost)
- UCSB Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
- Location: Building 599 (Career Services)
- Call: (805) 893-4411 for an appointment or to speak to an after-hours counselor.
Walk-in visits are also available for urgent needs.
Adapted from: Dealing with Homesickness blog post, UCSB Housing & Residential Services.