Are you having a challenging time finding your place at Loyola? Are you missing home? Home is a special place and feeling sad is a normal response to being separated from the people, places, things and overall culture that give you a sense of belonging. Most people feel homesick at some point in their lives. For those of you who are missing home for the first time in your life, you may feel a bit overwhelmed and perhaps inadequate. Remember that everyone has his or her own tolerance for change and it may take a while to get adjusted to a new environment like college. Believe it or not, sad and lonely feelings will subside over time. Meanwhile, there are several things that you can do to cope:
(NOTE: If insensitivity from others or discrimination because of your identity is contributing to your difficulty adjusting here, it is very important that you seek assistance immediately. Please go to Who am I?/How do Others View Me? for specific advice and recommendations. Insensitivity to others and discrimination in any form is inconsistent with Loyola’s mission and values and will not be tolerated.)
• Remember that missing home is normal and not a sign of weakness.
• Talk about your feelings with a family member or friend who had a similar experience. Seek out other people who may be having the same experience right now. It takes courage to accept the fact that something is bothering you and to confront it.
• Create a “home away from home” by including familiar items from home such as photos, plants, and even stuffed animals in your new dorm room or apartment. This may provide a sense of continuity and ease the shock of a new environment.
• Familiarize yourself with your Loyola surroundings. If you know where buildings, classes, services, etc. are located, you will feel more in control.
• Establish a routine as quickly as possible. The fuller your days are, the less time you have to feel sad or lonely.
• Check out Loyola's Student Activities webpage, ALANA Student Services, the Women's Center, or Spectrum to learn about organizations and clubs that are here to offer support and help students from various backgrounds get connected.
• Stay in touch with friends and family from home - make sure they know how you are doing and what they can do to support you.
• Check out Baltimore to see what type of opportunities there are to connect with like-minded others - are there groups of similar identity that get together? Restaurants that serve food from home? Barber shops or salons that would understand your needs? Cultural events of interest?
• Examine your expectations and be realistic. Do you expect college to be an extension of high school? How often do you expect to hear from parents or friends? Do you expect to instantly make friends? Friendships take time to build.
• Seek out new opportunities. Is there a certain club that you would like to join? Becoming a member of a group can be a great way to meet other students who have similar goals, values and interests. College is an ideal time for you to “reinvent” yourself.
• Communicate with friends and family. Remember to do your part to stay connected.
• Keep a journal to record your feelings. This can be a good way to get your feelings out, rather than keeping them bottled inside.
• Volunteer for a community service project. Oftentimes, reaching out to others who are different from you or less fortunate helps not only to get your mind off of home, but also provides you with perspective on how fortunate you are.
• Challenge yourself to be adaptable and flexible. These are essential skills for success in the “real world” and are paramount to adjusting to a new environment.
• If you see others who do not appear to be missing home, be aware that they may experience delayed homesickness.
• While you likely have become accustomed to parents and teachers providing you with structure and motivation, it is now time to become more autonomous and self-motivated.
Still in need of things to do? Or in need of other sources of support? Consider:
• Talking with your resident assistant or Campus Ministry (ext. 2222)
• Visiting http://www.baltimorecollegetown.org to learn about the free Collegetown shuttle to area attractions
• Attending Loyola and neighboring university sporting events
• Visiting the Fitness and Aquatic Center
• Participating in events sponsored by the office of student activities events like Best of Baltimore and Late Night
• Creating a “Hometown Scrapbook” and sharing it with others when you are feeling lonely
If you are struggling with low self-confidence, hopelessness, social anxiety, or just need a safe space to vent, consider making an appointment with a counselor at the Counseling Center. The Counseling Center offers a group called Transitions for new students, free counseling and referral services.