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Counseling Services Offers Tips For New Students Experiencing Homesickness

By Noell Saunders

For freshmen starting college, the first weeks on campus can be filled with excitement. But it's easy for homesickness to set in.

The signs include sadness, anxiety, isolation and an overwhelming desire to be close to friends and loved ones who may be far away. Those feelings are common, said Brent Vallee, a professional counselor and outreach coordinator for Old Dominion University's Office of Counseling Services.

"It's normal to feel homesick. Many students do. Going out to meet people, introducing yourself to your roommates and classmates and checking in with resident assistants for socializing opportunities are all great ways to combat homesickness," Vallee said. "Also, staying in touch with family members and friends at other schools is very helpful."

Vallee encouraged new students to make friends to help build a support system. That eases the adjustment to college life and reduces stress. But the process takes time, he cautioned.

"Most students are coming from high schools where they have been for years and those friendships took time to form," he said. "It's the same in college. People don't become best friends overnight. It is important to have realistic expectations. Quality friendships take time and energy to develop."

Here are other tips for new college students:

  • Talk about your feelings: Students can meet with counselors and work through their issues. Old Dominion University's Office of Counseling Services is open Monday to Thursday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and during school breaks and summer.
  • Join a club or organization or become a volunteer: Making new friends is the key to creating a support system on campus, and a club is a great way to find other students with similar interests. Old Dominion University's Office of Leadership and Student Involvement has more than 300 student organizations to choose from, as well as a variety of activities and volunteer opportunities.

  • Find new interests: College is a great time of discovery and finding new passions. Students should make the most of their college experience by exploring their surroundings. Some examples are going to viewings of foreign films, joining a yoga class, visiting a museum or attending lectures on interesting subjects.

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