If there is anything sadder in college than tuition costs, it’s saying goodbye to your loving  family for months on end. Homesickness seemed to be a talent of mine for several years. I was never one to be excited about leaving my parents and sisters for camp or college. Somehow, though, I managed to wipe away the tears and turn my frown upside-down during these tearful farewells.

Leaving loved ones for an extended period of time is never easy, but there are a number of ways to make the living transition manageable. All of these tips helped me overcome homesickness at camps, college, and other prolonged experiences away from home.

1.) Stay busy. You’ll be prone to feeling down in the dumps if you are moping around with nothing to do. Keep your mind and body energized. Give 100% effort and enthusiasm in all your activities.

2.) Meet new friends. An unfamiliar environment with unfamiliar people can make anyone feel uncomfortable. These new surroundings can leave us feeling like we’re lost on a foreign planet away from the comfort of our homes. This means it’s time to extend your hand and introduce yourself to other people. I’m sure there are students or campers experiencing the same anxiety and sadness that you’re feeling. Meeting new people can be very rewarding because once you have friends, you have new family. 

3.) Get involved on campus. If you are at college, you can’t expect to spend four years of your life on campus without doing something productive (besides getting an education, of course). Go Greek. Play a sport. Sing in the choir. Try out for cheerleading or work for the school newspaper. I have three reasons right off the top of my head why involvement is crucial. 1) Meet people with similar interests. 2) Develop your leadership skills. 3) Stand out on your resumes. BOOM.

4.) Talk with a friend or counselor. If your are feeling blue, talk with someone! Share how you are feeling. Releasing your immediate emotions can clear your mind and heavy heart. Whether it’s another camper, close friend, or counselor, all of these people will be there to listen.

5.) Bring a few special keepsakes from home along with you. This might sound silly, but I literally made a crayon drawing of the outside of my house and took it with me to 4-H camp when I was nine years old. Even to this day, I’ll bring some stuffed animals and photo albums to college to help me make it through the first couple weeks of classes. These all made home feeling closer to me and calmed my nerves down.

5.) Communicate with loved ones back at home. Hearing my family’s voices over the phone or Skype hits the soft spot of my heart. I can’t tell you how many times I tear up when I hear or see them. Daily communication with them seems to dissolve the physical distance between us when I’m at school.

6.) Kindly ask for care packages or mail. Goodies mailed with love and delivered from loving people is just lovely. I felt like a little child at Christmastime when I received one from my parents! Letters, comfort food, and little odds and ends to get you by the semester are all awesome. Even more awesome are the people who sent them to you. It’s all awesomeness. All the more to feel connected to your folks.

All of these methods of madness have helped me cope with missing my Ohio home. Hopefully, they work for you, too!