Make Home Feel a Little Less Far Away


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By Sarah Lalond

Homesickness can be a paradox. You’re excited to be at college. After all, you did make the choice to apply and commit to NIU. Novelly, you have the opportunity to take classes that genuinely interest you.


Still, after the school supplies are purchased and classes have started, there can be a lingering, achy feeling lodged in your chest. Homesickness isn’t necessarily the feeling of missing your physical house, but is instead a longing for the connections and familiarity of home.


Being homesick isn’t an abnormal part of the college experience; you’re uprooted from friends and family you’ve known your whole life and replanted into a new, larger community of people. From a social standpoint, it’s like starting from square one.


When you’re feeling the loneliness of homesickness, it’s easy to isolate yourself in the safety of the four walls of your dorm, but this isn’t the best remedy.


“Try to make connections and feel settled in a new place,” Tim Paquette, Assistant Director of Counseling and Consultation Services, said.


It’s important to make NIU a place where you can build relationships. Through myNIU, Huskie Link is a resource students can use to explore different organizations and get involved.


With over 300 organizations on campus, deciding which ones to check out can seem overwhelming. Take time to narrow down your options to categories such as Greek life, governing bodies, community services or religious organizations.


The best way to build relationships is to simply be present. Even though it’s tempting to drive home over the weekends, try to make plans and stay on campus instead.


Another large part of remedying homesickness is not just getting involved, but taking care of your physical and mental wellbeing. Eating well, working out in the recreation center and not overwhelming yourself with classes plays an important role in feeling your best.


When I first transferred into NIU halfway through the school year, it was a struggle for me to feel connected. I remember counting down the weeks, and then the days until I could go home.


I didn’t regret choosing to study at NIU. I simply missed the easy, comfortable relationships I had back home.


My choice to get involved in an organization with a weekly commitment benefited me immensely. In midst of the changing demands of classes, it was grounding to meet with the same group of people on a weekly basis.  


“[It] comes down to taking that risk,” Paquette said. If you are struggling to find your place at NIU, be deliberate and actively look into becoming involved with different organizations.