Getting over first-year homesickness

IT HAPPENS TO first years, it happens to graduate students—you leave you parent’s place for the first time (or maybe the second or third) and you can’t help but miss home when you’re at university. It was really nice having a dishwasher and washing machine where you were living, and the abundance of food was a real plus. Or maybe you just miss your family, friends, or significant other. Feeling isolated after flying the coop is natural, especially in a new place. It’s important to take control of your homesickness so it gets better, not worse.

Get as involved as you can on campus

The size of the U of O might seem daunting, but there are hundreds of clubs and causes to get involved with on a campus as big as ours. Join a group where you can do what you love and meet people who love the same thing—clubs listed on the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa website include anime, baking, fashion, improvisation, musical theatre, trivia, and sororities and fraternities. There are also religious, cultural, political, and philanthropic clubs. And while you’re considering volunteering, why not drop by the Fulcrum and consider writing an article?

Get a webcam and phone card

Sometimes a Skype date is the cure for homesickness, even if it’s just to tell mom and dad you miss them. Planning chat time with friends or a significant other might seem strange, but chances are they’re as busy as you are, so arrange a time when you both can talk instead of just signing online and hoping someone’s there. If you’re calling a long-distance number, get a calling card from a convenience store to save on your phone bill.

Plan visits home

If you’re desperate for a trip home, start planning one with your parents. Choose a weekend that won’t be filled with essay-writing or cramming for midterms, and one that will give you enough time to save up for your ticket. Even if it’s a while before you can visit, having a trip planned be something to look forward to when you’re feeling down.

If you can’t shake the feeling, get help

It’s normal to feel a little sad when you leave home, but if your homesickness persists, you could be suffering from depression or anxiety. The U of O has clinics and mental health services that can help you with these problems. To arrange a meeting with a counsellor, call (613) 562-5200 or email couns@uottawa.ca. These services are offered by Student Academic Success Service for those who are covered by the U of O health plan.

—Charlotte Bailey