Culture Shock: Surviving the Chaos


I really miss home.

Homesickness is best described as a longing or an aching for the familiar things from home. It doesn’t necessarily mean missing your parents, friends or other tangible things, but instead, you associate home with feelings such as love, affirmation, and security.

Homesickness is tough to avoid – not just for international students but all students. Many domestic students are also far away from home, maybe for the first time. Homesickness is an expression of grief. You are grieving over all the things you have left behind - losses. Domestic students share many of the same losses that you do – home, family, friends, routines, and way of life. Not everyone will necessarily experience homesickness, but for those who do, it will manifest itself in different ways for different people. For some, it will be preoccupying thoughts of home. For others it may be frequent phone calls home, or feelings of anxiety or discomfort. For most people, it is manifested in a good cry and generally feeling blue.

How to beat homesickness

  1. Plan a time when you don’t have to be anywhere for a while.
  2. Put your favorite music on.
  3. Look at your pictures from home, scrapbooks, or school yearbooks.
  4. Have a good cry.

Once you’ve done that, perhaps get on the internet and chat with your old friends and see what they are up to, or call home and have a nice, long talk with your family…then go cry again. It’s okay to give in to homesickness and do it right rather than trying to beat it back and be on the losing end of things. By allowing yourself to openly grieve you are validating all the joy and good things from home; they are worth being sad over. Then take a deep breath and move on.


Overwhelming homesickness may come back a few more times and you can give in to it again, but if it hangs around without letting go despite your efforts to deal with it, then think about talking with someone who can help, whether it is an upper-class student, an advisor, a friend, a coach, a professor, or a counselor. You are not alone and people are happy to be helpful to students at this difficult stage.