This story ran as part of a VCU Student Media Center summer special publication, The Compass, which serves as a guidebook for new students.
Paola Cordero, Contributing Writer
When first starting college the excitement of being on your own and not having parents to watch your every move can be freeing — at first. The trips to Christian’s Pizza at 1 a.m. and the all-nighters at Cabell are some of the first things you will experience as an independent college student.
However, no matter your home situation, the feeling of homesickness might creep up on you. Homesickness isn’t just missing where you used to live, but rather missing the comfort, stability and love that being at home offers. With 12-15 credit hours, a job and extracurriculars, you can easily lose the feeling of stability and comfort. Here are some tips to get that feeling back without having to take a trip to your parent’s house.
Join a club
Joining a club can seem very anxiety-inducing and unrealistic due to your busy schedule as a college student. However, many VCU student orgs don’t require you to attend every meeting, and there’s also an endless number of clubs to choose from for any hobby or interest you might have. Student groups are a great way to build community and clear any extra free time you might have to distract your mind from missing home. RamsConnect, available at vcu.campuslabs.com/engage, is a great resource to find clubs at VCU and get involved.
Call your family members
Talking to your family might seem like the simplest answer to homesickness, but it honestly helps. Having a conversation with the person who makes you feel most comfortable and loved can validate your feelings and motivate you to keep going. The people you love are always a phone call away — do not be afraid to ring them up.
Also, reconnecting with people you love is a great break from that five-page paper you have to write. Calling my friends at home has been my favorite thing to do and reminds me why I am going to school in the first place.
Explore your new home
I know campus life can take a lot of getting used to, especially being at VCU in the middle of Richmond. Take some time to get familiar with your new surroundings. Richmond has a lot of parks, cafes, museums and other things you can explore to make yourself at home.
Establishing familiarity with where you’ll be for the next four years will make you feel like less of a stranger in this new place. Of course, a new home will never replace your friends and family from high school, but this is a new beginning. Surrounding yourself with love and positivity will help you succeed in all aspects of your life.
In my experience, being positive was one of the hardest things I had to do. You can easily drown in the feeling of loneliness from being in a place you do not quite belong yet. Try to be optimistic, because you are capable of achieving all you need. Following these tips is a good start to establishing a sense of well-being as a freshman. It isn’t easy, but you can do it. Every day is a new day to learn and be something new.
You definitely might face homesickness at some point as a freshman. Just know it will not last forever. Also, make sure what you are feeling isn’t more than just homesickness. Counseling services are offered at VCU and will help you with any questions or concerns you might have. Lastly, remember you aren’t alone. Get some of your favorite food from back home, call your best friend, join the poetry club and make your place at VCU.