Dealing with homesickness

By Abby Paeth, Editor-in-chief

Coming to the University from another country is an extremely difficult task — one most students here don’t understand. You leave everything you knew at home and come to an entirely new country, an entirely new culture with people that you’ve never met. There are going to be a lot of changes and adjustments you have to make during your first few weeks at the University. You might even have some doubts but rest assured — you chose the right place to be.

Dealing with homesickness can be a challenge that’s especially difficult to overcome. When I was younger, I got extremely homesick anytime I went somewhere new, so coming to school just two hours away from my home was a big step. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to move here from across an ocean by yourself.

Here are some helpful tips I had in my back pocket when I first came to school. I hope these can be useful to you now as you begin your journey at Illinois.

  1. You’re not alone

It might feel like you’re completely alone at first, but trust me, you’re not. About 25 percent of the University is made up of international students, so there are so many people around you going through the exact same thing. When you come to Illinois, you are coming to a global environment with students and faculty members from all over the world. Take this opportunity to make friends on campus and eventually you’ll realize that most of them are experiencing the same feelings and emotions you are.

  1. Decide if it’s best to contact your family

For some people, a call home can make them feel a million times better. But for others, it might do the exact opposite and can make you miss them more. You need to decide whether it’s best for you to contact your family back home within the first couple weeks of school. You might adjust better to the new environment by waiting to call home.

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  1. Use your resources

Mental health is so important — especially when you’re in a stressful environment such as college. The initial culture shock can be very overwhelming at first, so it’s important to take things slowly. If you’re really struggling with homesickness and you feel like you have no way out, consider talking to someone at the McKinley Health Center or at the Counseling Center. Both places have an abundance of resources and professionals who specialize in these types of situations and they want you to be successful here. If you feel more comfortable, you can also talk to a Resident Adviser or even a teacher that you like. These people are here specifically for you. If you’re feeling very sad and lonely, you need to speak up and let someone know. I know it can be difficult to admit you are afraid, sad or lonely to someone you barely know, but it will help you do better in the long run.

  1. Remember to take time for yourself

Whenever I’m stressed or upset about something, I use that energy and put it into activities that better myself. Normally, I go for a long run by myself or with a friend. Even if you’re not really into exercising, exerting that negative energy can be a very useful form of therapy. On the other hand, sometimes it’s good to treat yourself. Go to a new restaurant and try a different food or go out for ice cream with your friends. Anything you can do to get the homesickness off of your mind will help to eliminate it completely.

  1. Know that you made this choice for a reason

Something inside you said Illinois was the right choice for you; don’t let the fear of trying something new get in the way of the countless opportunities made available to you on campus. You are here for a reason. Whenever you’re feeling a little low, think back to how you first felt when you decided you wanted to apply to Illinois or how happy you were when you got accepted. Remember all of those emotions you had during that time and don’t let them die. You have an amazing opportunity to work and grow in a new and exciting environment; try to remember all of the reasons you wanted to take this leap of faith and give it your absolute best shot.

Abby is a senior in Media. 

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