With the fall semester about to kick into full gear, many students are left feeling more than a little daunted. For a lot of students this semester, homesickness poses a huge problem that does not always have an easy solution, especially in the midst of a global pandemic.
However, if you can’t go home during the semester when things get tough, don’t worry. Here are six ways to fend off that homesickness.
Make UT feel more like home
First things first, the single most effective way to stop homesickness in its tracks is to make this new place feel like home, too. A few ways you can do that is by decorating your space in fun ways that make it easier to relax and feel less stressed.
For example, you can put up fun lights, bring little trinkets that remind you of home or even put up pictures of loved ones on your walls so that you can always be reminded of the people who are so proud of you.
Make new friends, and keep in touch with your loved ones, too
Another great way to deal with homesickness is by making new friends around campus so that you don’t feel as lonely. Believe it or not, most people on campus are eager to make new friends and are usually dealing with loneliness themselves, so reaching out to other people is a great way to start making connections and lasting friendships in college.
Making friends as an adult is hard. But, if you just take that leap of faith and talk to the person sitting next to you in class, or your neighbors across the hall, or even just the person sitting next to you in the Student Union, you may end up making a lifelong friend.
But also don’t forget that you have people at home, too, that would love to hear from you. Your family and friends at home probably miss you just as much as you miss them, so don’t be afraid to shoot them a text or give them a call and just tell them how much you love them. (Your mom will love it.)
Stay positive and take a mental health day for yourself
Also, one of the best things you can do when feeling homesick is stay positive. Living in a new place can feel very overwhelming, but if you keep an open mind and take an occasional mental health day for yourself to relax, you’ll be surprised by how nice it can be.
During your mental health day, you can do a couple of things to destress, like cleaning your space, treating yourself to a spa day, ordering some good takeout, playing some fun video games or just catching up on a new TV show.
All of these things will hopefully help you chill out and get you into a good mood that will help you keep that positive outlook on life, even when you might feel a little lonely.
Try to get out of the funk with some new, fun activities
If you don’t want to stay inside all day, you can always look for ways to cheer yourself up outside! Starting in the fall, even with COVID-19 still present, there will be many fun events taking place online and on Pedestrian Walkway.
The UTK Student Life team has even set up an online calendar to let you know what’s going on around campus and how to sign up for events.
Or, if organized events on campus aren’t really your style, a great way to get out of your room and enjoy the day while still social distancing is to get yourself a hammock, and then go set up shop in between two trees outside of HSS.
While you’re hanging out, you can enjoy the beautiful fall weather in Knoxville, listen to some music and maybe even get some studying done, too, if you’re lucky.
Go out and explore Knoxville
If you have access to a car or don’t mind Uber, then you can go out and see even more of Knoxville. There are great places to see and cool places to eat all over Knoxville, so if you are feeling homesick, you can fend it off by exploring the city.
If you enjoy nature, there is a great little park called Ijams on the Tennessee River, about 15 minutes from campus. Ijams has hiking trails, a river boardwalk and a rock quarry open for swimming and kayaking during the warmer months of the year.
If you don’t have a car, don’t worry because you can still explore — downtown Knoxville is only a 20 minute walk from campus. If you do go exploring downtown, you will find cool areas like the Old City, Gay Street, Market Square and the hidden mural walls of Strong Alley.
And with all of these cool places, there are interesting shops, restaurants, book stores and photo ops to find. On Saturdays during the warmer months, there is even a farmer’s market in Market Square. What is great about downtown as well is that parking garages are free on weeknights and free all day on the weekends.
So, if you want to go explore those fun options or find some new discoveries of your own, get out of your funk and go explore the city instead.
Try to be productive
Finally, when you feel homesick, sometimes the best thing you can do is try to be productive. You can take all of those bad feelings inside you and channel them into productivity.
Whether that is homework, a creative project, working out, etc., being productive is a great way to deal with the anxiety of being away from home while also doing something good for yourself.
Overall, when dealing with homesickness, there are two approaches you can take. You can either stay inside and treat yourself, or you can go out and have some fun. Depending on the kind of person you are, one method might work better than the other for cheering yourself up.
The important thing to remember is that no matter what, you can’t just sit around and do nothing. Getting into a depressive mood is a bad place to be in, and when depression is paired with homesickness, things can get really scary, really quick.
So, do yourself a favor and try out some of these tips if you start feeling homesick, and get on your way to being the best person you can be.