Getting homesick is unfortunately one of the downfalls of going to college. While living in a new place or different city is exciting and fun, being away from family and close friends can be hard. It could be as simple as missing your favorite restaurant or so difficult that it leads to depression. Although we are all bound to miss home at some point, it’s important to actively take steps to prevent homesickness from interfering with your happiness and college experience.

Here’s a list of five steps you can take to help ease the homesick blues.

1. Volunteer Your Time
If you’re feeling down about being so far from home, volunteering with the local community in your college town is always a great way to bring a smile to your face. Try looking into clubs or volunteer programs that focus on projects or organizations that make you feel close to home. Although playing chess with a senior citizen at a center may not be the same as spending time with one of your grandparents, helping bring joy to people who remind you of your loved ones is a way to fill up the time with something meaningful. 

2. Skype and Call Loved Ones…in Moderation
Planning Skype dates or phone calls with family and friends is definitely a way to help make living away from home easier. Getting to see and talk to the people you miss will help you bring a piece of home right into your dorm room.

But, beware of Skyping and calling too much. Sometimes while you’re homesick, you can get caught up with talking with the people back at home and forget about catching up with those actually around you. Try to make sure that you keep a balance so that you’re not missing out on all of the great new friends and fun activities at your school.

Remember, your family and friends from home are still going about their lives, so make sure that you’re making time to live yours.  

3. Seek Support
Homesickness can really take a toll on some of us. If you notice that you’re a lot more sad than usual, don’t be afraid to seek out help from your school’s counseling center. Taking the first step to see someone about your overwhelming feelings may seem a little scary, but it’s worth it. By taking the time to meet with a counselor or therapist, you’ll have the chance to release any bottled-up emotions to a person who is ready to listen and willing to be supportive.

Another way to help reduce homesickness is by joining a support group on campus. Although talking about your emotions in front of a group of people can be nerve-wrecking, you might find some comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. And, hey, you might even make some new, understanding friends.

4. Create a Family Away from Home
Even though some of us may not admit it, our parents and siblings are some of the people that we miss the most from home. Although no one else can replace your family, finding a core group of friends (or even just one friend) that you can rely on may help ease any homesickness. Something as simple as eating dinner or having a weekly movie night with the same people can really help you get adjusted, giving you a sense of belonging and reducing any feelings of loneliness that you may have. Joining student clubs and organizations, like intramural sports teams and Greek life, are great ways to meet people that will stand by you until graduation and beyond.

5. Study Abroad
Studying abroad sounds like it could put you in a position to become even more homesick, but getting out of the country or even going to another school for a semester can really help reduce homesickness in the future. When you live outside of the U.S., chances are communicating with family and friends is a lot more difficult. Even though not being able to talk to loved ones as often may seem hard at first, the reduced communication will teach you how to be less reliant on those phone calls and text messages. And, it will help you learn how to go about life without having to talk to your parents or your best friend all of the time.

With less time spent on the phone or the computer connecting with people back at home, you’ll be able to experience more of your surrounding environment and spend more time with your friends who are close by.