Skip to main content

I’ve Caught the Homesickness Bug

Here is how Lexi is dealing with homesickness at the moment.

Here is how Lexi is dealing with homesickness at the moment.

Well, well, well, I am back at Carleton and seem to have caught a bug. No, it’s not a stomach flu. No, it’s not a cold. And no, it’s not allergies.

I am homesick.

My symptoms include a longing to hug my mom, a pressing need to tell my dad about every cool car I’ve seen, and a yearning to sit silently in my bedroom with my sister. Oh yeah, I desire to share a bowl of popcorn with my dog.

If you’re anything like me, homesickness is a new and frightening phenomenon. Last year the excitement of college was enough to keep the homesickness away; however, this summer I realized how much I value my mom’s homecooked meals and midnight Starbies runs. Now that I’m back at school, I am still very excited to be here, but a huge portion of my heart is still in Orange, California.

Sisters relax on the beach
Half my heart is with my sister, Allison, in San Diego.

Home Remedies for Homesickness

Homesickness isn’t one of those things you can take NyQuil and get rid of. There are a few things I’ve found to be soothing while I sort out my homesickness.

Video calling

Nothing conjures up more joy in me than seeing my dad laugh. Even as a kid, I would tell nonsense jokes to get my dad giggling. While emojis make texting more emotive, I’m still a huge fan of Facetime and WhatsApp.

Video calling also hastens response-reaction time, so we can catch up more efficiently and fully. As a busy college student, sometimes the extra five minutes it takes to text a funny story to my family group chat is too much time. Seeing my older sister’s calming, reassuring smile really means a lot to me.

That being said, don’t underestimate the importance of a text. A quick “Goodnight, I love you!” can make your family’s evening.

Student and her dad videocall on FaceTime
My dad and I had a laugh about how similar our smiles looked in this picture!


Nothing can replicate the comfort that my mom’s hugs bring me, but a hug from my close friends are realllllllly powerful. When I’m feeling down with the homesickness, a hug can relieve the stress and tension. Deep pressure and oxytocin from a hug are powerful sympathetic nervous system suppressors. In less words, hug makes heavy sad feeling go bye-bye.

Lexi and her mom sip on cups of coffee
My mom and I are like two cups of coffee: strong, helpful, and hyper! Her hugs are quite possibly the best in the world.

Asking for a hug from a friend can be as simple as, “Hey, could I have a hug right now?” If a furry friend is more what you need, you can always visit the SWA dogs in the Student Wellness Office. They’re very cuddly and amazing secret keepers.

Talking to My Friends About It

There is a 100% chance that I am not the only sophomore on this campus feeling homesick right about now. I know because I’ve already spoken to a few friends who miss home right now too. Talking about our loved ones and the specific things we miss from home can be therapeutic. Having someone to share the burden helps to take all the weight off my shoulders.

Part of what makes homesickness such a difficult bug is that it can create feelings of isolation. While you may still feel lonely at times, it’s important to note that Carls all around you are dealing with the same feelings. There are loads of upperclassmen who can share their own tips and tricks to feeling better when they feel homesick.

Two students play with a deck of cards
Ellis and Jules have really made my dorm floor a welcoming place to live! Also, shoutout to Ellis for teaching Jules and me a new card game.

Reflecting On the Good Memories

I have a picnic blanket that reminds me of the time I went to the beach with my family. Over the past few days, I’ve held the blanket close and thought about that trip to the beach. I remembered how the sun felt on my skin, the sand between my toes, and the love I felt for my family. While it’s certainly not the same as being on the beach with my family, I feel connected to them when I think about the fond times we’ve had.

Two sisters smile on the pier
My sister, Allison, and I had the best time at Seal Beach the day before I flew back to Minnesota.

There’s a fine balance between loving nostalgia and rumination though. I try not to forget about the present and future memories waiting to happen. There’s a lot of fun, stimulating activities all around campus this term, such as apple picking. There’s also a lot of outstanding people to make more good memories with.

Crying (a little)

Let it out. It’s okay, you’re going to be okay. Crying releases stress hormones from the bloodstream, so it literally can make you feel better. I’m an advocate for the “Hold stuffed animal and bawl into the pillow” method, which is exactly what it sounds like. Sometimes all you need is a few tears. If you ever feel that your homesickness is overwhelming you, we have support resources on campus. Talk to a trusted adult or SHAC therapist.

I feel very fortunate to have such strong attachments to my hometown of Orange and my collegetown of Northfield. Homesickness is a natural part of the transition from teenager to young adult. The uncomfortable feelings will pass in due time; right now, I’m going to curl up with some tea and my favorite blanket. I invite you to do the same.