With the seemingly dark, dreary, and cold days of ‘swinter’ (spring + winter) amid this point in the semester when days feel longer, mid-winter break is over, and the heap of homework, projects, and exams seemingly competes in height with that of Mount Rushmore, feelings of homesickness inevitably creep in. Especially as a first-year student, it can feel overwhelming and cause you to miss living at home. However, it’s helpful to know that you are not alone, and that there are ways to help ease the anxious feelings of living away from home.  

For me, I think it’s helpful to remember to strive for a positive, growth mindset. For example, while it can be difficult living away from home, especially as a first-year student, it’s important to maintain a healthy perspective. One way to do so is by seeing this stage of your life as a learning opportunity. What can you learn about yourself, how can you care for yourself, and how will you fulfill your responsibilities through living on your own? Unlike living at home where perhaps you depended on the schedules and structures placed upon you, you are now more in control of your days. As a result, in order to balance both your health and responsibilities, I suggest setting a daily and weekly routine for yourself. For instance, a helpful way to accomplish this is by creating a list of daily, weekly, and monthly goals and tasks for yourself in each area of your life. While the lists may feel overwhelming, it helps provide clarity and organization in your life that enables you to feel more confident in your awareness for what lies ahead. In doing so, you are setting yourself up for success and putting pen to paper. With one step at a time, you are able to accomplish your goals and, if nothing else, receive the satisfaction of inscribing a check mark beside a completed task. No matter your personality, everyone needs some structural system to achieve success. 

Additionally, unlike high school classes, you now have more freedom and flexibility in your days with classes being spread out across different time frames. For some, this is exciting while for others this can be overwhelming. No matter where you fall in this, it’s helpful to see your day as a 9am-5pm job. This can look like trying to complete as much as your homework as possible during this time frame. One of the reasons I suggest looking at your days in this way comes with my next point: the importance of prioritizing your sleep. While this may seem obvious, sleep is critical. In college especially it can be easy to adjust your normal sleep schedule and thus fall out of the optimal sleep pattern. However, getting sufficient sleep will only allow you to perform at a higher level and maintain your overall health. 

Other than these important practical tips, feelings of homesickness can still exist and even inhibit your ability to successfully live on your own. While you may be on your own in the sense that you are away from the comfort of your home, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. At Hope College, community exists. From events within residential halls to weekly student-wide activities hosted by Hope’s Student Activities Committee to a myriad of student organizations and everything in between, communities of belonging, fellowship, and fun extend across campus. As a result, I have found that a great remedy for homesickness is to get involved. Not only will this perhaps take your mind off of your anxious feelings, but it will also help you form communities. And in doing so, you’ll be able to connect with others similarly navigating the journey of living away from home. 

Published by Madeline Kenney

Class of 2025 Hometown: Livonia, MI Majors: Biology and Business Minor: Classical Studies

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