Dealing with Homesickness

1) Know thyself. Understand your own particular style and preferences regarding new stuff. Some people thrive on a lot of variety, others on a lot of familiar. Both are fine - the trick is to learn what suits you, and to approach new situations in a manner which is comfortable for you. Seek a balance between exposing yourself to new people, places, ideas and sticking with the familiar.

2) Time. Give yourself adequate time to get used to a new place. A month or two is not an unusual time frame in which to begin to feel settled in and connected.

3) Call home. Consider calling if it tends to make you feel better, and if you feel more encouraged after the call. Consider not calling if your friend or family member discourages you from thinking you can make the adjustment. Consider whether the person you are calling can really help you solve the problem. If you feel you are getting dependent on phone calls home, set some small limits, such as every other day instead of every day, or change to morning calls instead of late night if you feel more nostalgic after dark.

4) Set up your room. Take some pains to set your room up in a way that is comfortable and welcoming to you. If you have a very compatible roommate, this can be done as a joint project. If you are not yet sure of your roommate, or know you have different tastes and styles, do what you can around your area. Pay attention to fabrics and colors, when you have a choice in these. The effect is quite different in the same room with merely different colors. Plants, if you have light enough, are a comfort for some.

5) See who is doing what. Amble through the Pugh Center as often as possible - many very different groups of people will be gathering there often. Read bulletin boards. Visit the Athletic Complex. Make a habit of reading the Events list on the Colby website every day or two, and writing down the activities which interest you. Even if you don't get up the courage to go to everything, it helps to know what your options are, when they are and where they are taking place.

6) Transitional objects. Sometimes a small token of our outside life can help us - think of all the family photos on desks in offices across the nation. Bring some photos from home, and try some photos of friends in their new places - after school starts, take pictures and send them to friends in exchange for some from them.

7) Know where you are. Walk around campus and learn the names of buildings and important rooms. You can do this before you know a lot of people, and it will pay off when you can immediately find the location of that activity that you read about in the Events list. Wander around each of the libraries and see what the layouts are, the options for study space and the location of the restrooms. You might feel conspicuous at first, but no one else will notice. Check out each of the dining halls - they have different menus.

8) Music. Let it work for you. If you play an instrument, find the practice rooms in Bixler and treat yourself to a concert. Put up a notice for people who might want to play duets, trios or quartets; ask about a band; join one of the musical groups already going on. If all you play is your CD player or walkman, then be sure to stock some of your favorite music.

9) Connect with people. Faculty and staff members are very aware of the strains that new students face each Fall. Residence Hall staff are trained to be helpful in facilitating the transition to Colby. People at the Health Center, the Deans Offices, the Chaplains Offices and Counseling Services are all likely to be gracious and respectful listeners. If you find yourself struggling with loneliness or feeling like you are not fitting in, reach out - call, write a note, or e-mail any of these people, and start the connection which can help.

Jan Munroe, PhD Counseling Services