5 Tips for Battling Homesickness

Photo Courtesy: Doug Keller

By Emma Foster, Swimming World College Intern

As September turns into October, and Pumpkin Spice flavors fully overtake any remnants of summer, college swim teams across the country are settling into a groove that will continue throughout the coming months. After the insanity that comes from the first weeks of practices and classes, October marks a time where the routine sets in, and the buildup of excitement of approaching dual meets hits its heavy point. For an upperclassman, this routine has become so familiar that the changes have become subtle and the shift into school feels like a return to normal life.

However, for the incoming freshman or transfer student, this time can be one of the hardest. After the first initial exciting weeks of the beginning of school where you didn’t have enough time to even think of home, much less miss it, October can mark a period in which homesickness can easily set in. With a building pressure from school and your swimming schedule somehow becoming even busier, it is easy to slip into missing you parents, your friends, and your old team.

What is important to remember is that this is completely normal. College is a huge transition, and as much as everyone talks about how college sports will represent the best times of your life, that doesn’t mean that you will automatically feel completely at home with your new team.

While you ride out some of the homesickness there are some things you can do to start feeling comfortable. You’ll be surprised at how soon you will feel so close with your team that spending several days at home over Christmas Break will have you feeling homesick for them!

1. Talk to someone.

Apr 15, 2015; Mesa, AZ, USA; North Baltimore Aquatic Club teammates Allison Schmitt and Michael Phelps swims laps during a practice session at the Arena Pro Swim Series at Skyline Aquatic Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher/Arizona Republic via USA TODAY Sports

Photo Courtesy: Arizona Republic-USA TODAY Sports

Whether it be a fellow freshman, older teammate, captain, or your coach, reach out to people when you are feeling a little blue. While it may be easy to look around and feel that you are the only one having a hard time, you will be surprised that once you reach out everyone has a story about missing home. Sharing your own will help you feel better, and it will also allow you to bond even more closely with your teammates.

You may not realize it at the time but your classmates are probably going through similar feelings of homesickness and doubt. Reaching out and admitting that you are missing home will give them a chance to offer the same, and before you know it you’ll be closer through the knowledge that you can both support each other in the transition.

2. Get busy.

School work

Photo Courtesy: Shelby Iava

Probably one of the best ways to deal with homesickness is to get busy. While things may not feel very consistent or familiar right now, they are exciting. Rather than ruminating on what you miss at home, go out and distract yourself with all the fun things there are to do on a college campus. Whether you go to a club meeting, organize a game of frisbee on the field, ask some upperclassmen to dinner, or just go across the hall and talk to someone new, getting out of your room will distract you from missing home.

One of the biggest traps of homesickness is that it makes you want to withdraw from the world. Resist this. Make a point to go do something, especially when you’re feeling a little sad. You’ll be surprised by how quickly you are able to distract yourself and start getting excited about where you are again.

3. Follow examples.

Brenton Tse Brentontsephotography.com

Photo Courtesy: Brenton Tse

One common thing that student-athletes deal with is the adjustment to a new team. While for some this transition can be easy, often it takes a little bit of getting used to. Don’t worry too much if you feel like you don’t automatically fit in perfectly with your new team. What is important to remember is that the upperclassmen on the team have been bonding with one another for at least a year.

So instead of stressing out and feeling like you don’t quite fit, use the older swimmers on your team as examples of what you have the potential to find on the team. The close relationships that you are seeing weren’t automatic, but rather a product of working toward one goal together. The exciting thing is that you are now a part of that work, and soon you will look up and have no idea what you would do without the brothers and sisters around you.

4. Set little goals.

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Sometimes what can be most intimidating in a college season is the sheer amount of time that you will spend before being able to make it home for the holidays. This can be overwhelming when you start feeling homesick. Before you panic about the fact that you have three months before you get to see your dog, take a step back and set little goals to get you through the time.

Whether it be a fun dinner with friends at the end of the week, or a team brunch Saturday morning after practice, setting up things to look forward to will make the time fly by. Before you know it, the team Thanksgiving you excitedly wrote down on the calendar three months ago will be here, and you will be counting the days at home until you get to be back with your team!

5. Check in with family and friends from home.

viginia-team-hug

Photo Courtesy: Courtney Bartholomew

Overall, the most important thing you can do when battling homesickness is to reach out to your family and friends at home. There is no rule about how often you are allowed to talk to your parents once you go to college. Some students are content to check in once a week, while others call several times a day. So long as you’re not keeping yourself from participating in college activities, either of these practices is okay.

The same goes for friends. You don’t have to lose your high school and club friends just because you are all in different places. In fact, you might find your friendship gets even closer as you share stories from your team. You might not be competing with the same team cap on your head, but you know that these people will always be your teammates and have your back through thick or thin.

One of the best moments will be when your “home” and “school” worlds collide with the arrival of family or friends on your college campus. Getting to show them around and introduce them to your new team will give you a chance to step back and see just how far you’ve come. You’ll be surprised to find how quickly your dorm room, campus, and college team have started to feel like home.

3 Comments

3 comments

  1. Neah Estrada

    Sofia Estrada try to read this,,, ??????

Author: Emma Foster

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Emma Foster is an English and Gender Studies major at Seattle University and is a part of the Redhawks NCAA Division I team. Before college, Emma was a member of the Helena Lions Swim Team and the Helena High School squad.

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