Beating Homesickness

Adjusting to the new Harvey Mudd campus, roommate, expectations, courses and routine takes some time and patience.

You may already have had episodes of emotional breakdown on the phone with your family or friends or you may be feeling miserable and want to go home. Although not everyone feels this way, it is a very natural and common occurrence for many.

Homesickness, like other culture shock, is a normal, predictable response to a frightening situation. Separation from one’s family and friends, loss of daily contact with familiar surroundings and the grieving of that loss are aspects of relationships that each of us experience, learn how to handle and integrate as part of becoming older and wiser. Seen in this light, homesickness is a necessary and growth‐producing process—a minor crisis with a built‐in sense of opportunity. It is a dynamic process of adjustment rather than a static, one‐time problem.

So here are just a few suggestions in helping you out with making Mudd a place of home. You may have already tried some of these suggestions and still find it difficult. It is important that you know it generally takes about 3‐6 months and for some up to a year to feel fully integrated into a new place.

1. Get Involved

Social groups and events are a core part of your college experience. Just glance at a 5‐C campus calendar or local newspaper and attend a sporting event, concert or campus-sponsored program. Join a club, intramural sport or volunteer organization if you have not done so.

2. Do Something You Enjoy

Almost everyone has a favorite hobby, sport or pastime. Go on a morning run or walk, read a good book, play the piano in the green room, listen to your favorite music or shoot some hoops. Doing something you enjoy will add some happiness to your day and take your mind off of thinking of home and work for a bit. Even if you feel you don’t have enough time, try to make time, as this will help you decrease your stress and anxiety in the long run.

3. Go Out With a Friend

A trip to the local ice cream hangout or pizza joint can cure almost anything. Don’t eat alone. Try eating with students you recognize from your classes or an older student who may make your transition from home a little easier. Reconnect with your sponsor. Get to know your proctors. They may have suggestions for you.

4. Open Up

Your friendships here will take time to develop unless you invest more time in them and begin to open up more deeply. Take a risk and share with a couple of people. You might even discover your peers are struggling with the same problems as you.

5. Keep in Touch With Your Family

Keep in touch with your parents. When it’s difficult to talk with them, write a letter or send an email to them, especially if it’s late at night and you find it difficult to sleep.

6. Write in a Journal or Diary

Here’s your next assignment in Homesickness 101: Try writing in a journal or diary the next time you are feeling down. Don’t worry, spelling and punctuation won’t count on this one. Just write down what’s on your mind and express some of your worries and fears. Over time, you can reflect on what you wrote and see how far you’ve come.

7. Volunteer

Focus your attention on serving others. Service to others enables us to realize how fortunate we are and how much we can offer another person even when we are feeling down. You could volunteer to work with students at an elementary school or serve as a Big Brother or Big Sister. In doing so, you will build new relationships and enjoy the satisfaction of helping others.

8. Visit Someplace New

Catch the bus or Metrolink to see more of Los Angeles. Exploring your new home away from home will add some excitement to the daily grind of classes and coursework. You may even meet new friends or find a favorite hang out.

9. Contact an Old Friend

Going separate ways after high school graduation can be a little depressing. After all, these are the friends with whom you’ve grown up, survived the last four years of high school and shared experiences like your first kiss, Mr. Boring’s history class, prom and lots of other high school memories. But, however far apart you are, your friendship isn’t over. Plan to do something with your old friends when you are home during the break. You will look forward to the reunion and enjoy remembering old times together.

10. Set Goals

A little homesickness is normal as you adjust to college, but you can’t let it dampen your spirit. Now is a good time to remember your dreams and some of the reasons why you wanted to be at Mudd. Write down what you want to accomplish and commit yourself to working toward your goals. Your attitude and confidence will improve as you progress.