The biggest problem I faced in my first year of university was homesickness. I was already familiar with the feeling, having been to sleepover summer camp as a kid, but I still didn’t know how to make it go away. Of course, there is no actual remedy for homesickness other than Time (but nobody likes that answer!). So, with that being said, here are a few things that helped me when I was homesick:
Going on walks and listening to music. Not to sound completely dramatic, but walking around the neighbourhood and listening to (sad) music really did help me. I got time to reflect on why I was feeling this way, and how I should approach it. A completely unintentional side effect of this was that I began to familiarize myself with my new surroundings.
Exercise. A healthy body is the key to a healthy mind, as they say. And it proved to be a great way to distract myself from missing home. I joined the Only Human Dance Collective, signed up for tap dance lessons, and tried out some Hart House drop-in classes. It felt really good to have a stable exercise routine set up.
Sticky note reminders. Some people think these are cheesy (and maybe they are), but I swear they actually work! The little reminder of the phrase “new experiences make you grow” or “enjoy what you do, and do what you enjoy” really helped how I approached my homesickness. I put them on the wall in front of my desk, so that when I sat down I would be sure to read them. They gave me the perspective and mindset I needed. Simple as that.
Keeping contact. I’ve always heard people say “don’t visit home right away” and “don’t call too much.” Well let me tell you! I visited home the third weekend of September (and home for me is not in the GTA), and you know what? It was EXACTLY what I needed. I got hugs from both my parents, a little pep talk and, most importantly, the chance to re-energize.
Readings. There is always uncompleted homework to tackle. I took Ancient Greek and Latin during first year and dedicated a whole lot of my time to learning. Getting the work I needed to get done got my mind off of how much I missed home. And it did help me keep my head above water when midterm season rolled in.
Finding friends. Easier said than done, but surrounding myself with people was the key to not feeling alone. Sitting in the dining hall with people, talking to whoever I sat next to in class, and spending time with my roommate totally helped me beat my homesickness.
Most importantly, I kept in mind that my homesickness was temporary.