Staff picks: Tips for conquering homesickness


(Illustration by Abby Katz | Staff Illustrator)

By The Pitt News Staff

The dawn of a new semester can bring a mix of emotions — excitement, stress and sometimes even homesickness. Leaving family and friends back home for almost eight months can be tough, regardless of whether you live 30 minutes or a continent away. Here are our tips for conquering homesickness this semester.

Turn on your fam’s favorite movies // Maggie Young

The first week or so at school may give you a bit more downtime than you expected, much of which is spent alone. All of this extra time might have you reminiscing about summertime flexibility, when there’s always someone at home to talk to or a friend nearby to keep things interesting. If you miss being with your favorite people at home, try doing something that makes you think of them. Can’t think of anything? Plug in your fairy lights and log into Netflix, because it’s time for a movie.

While films almost always come with their own set of indulgences, such as cheesy plots or thoughtfully chosen soundtracks, the best movies are the ones that make you feel nostalgic. If you have some time on your hands and are feeling a bit homesick, be sure to turn on a movie that reminds you of someone from home. My grandmom loves “As Good As It Gets,” starring Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt and the cutest dog ever. I saw it one night while perusing Netflix, and decided to watch it because I knew how much my grandmom loved it. I made sure to call her and tell her how much I adored the movie once I finished watching. Talking to her that night had me in a good mood for the rest of the week.

Roam around, then settle down // Janine Faust, Editor-in-Chief

You know what keeps you from thinking about old, familiar places? Exploring new, exciting ones. During my first week (ok, fine, my first semester) at Pitt, I took a loooooot of walks around Schenley Park and Oakland. I also used my student ID to get into local museums for free, made a point to visit somewhere new every time I went out to eat and even wandered around some of Pitt’s campus buildings (in the appropriate places). If I had a free morning or afternoon, I looked up coffee shops or parks outside of Oakland and hopped on the bus to go study or hang out with a new friend in a fresh environment. Once I felt I knew how to navigate Pittsburgh a little better, I scoured Facebook for fun events to go to. While ruminating a little on old adventures and haunts is fine, if can get to be a little too much, so go make some new memories.

Once you feel like you’ve had your share of exploring, though, it doesn’t hurt to establish new routines in some of the places you discover. This will make the area you now live in feel more like the familiar place you left behind and make life easier after returning from breaks back home. Pick a favorite corner in Squirrel Hill coffee shop to do work in, or make it a tradition to grab a coffee or a bite to eat at the cafe you find you like best every Saturday morning. The nostalgia for your old home will always stick around, but once you get comfortable in Pittsburgh, it’ll become far more easy to manage.

Join a club // Leah Mensch, Contributing Editor 

The best distraction is, well, being distracted. Getting involved in University clubs and activities can seem daunting at first, but it’s one of the best ways to combat homesickness, all the while getting acquainted with campus. Luckily, Pitt has more than 400 student organizations and clubs, leaving little room for boredom on campus. From slam poetry to club figure skating to political organizations, there’s something for everyone. It’s within these organizations that you’ll likely meet the like minded people who become some of your greatest friends.

To curb the inevitable overwhelming feeling that comes with the option of 400 different clubs, be sure to visit the activities fair in the Peterson Events Center on Aug. 25. There you can browse tables with club information and talk to people who are current members and leaders of the organization. Find what makes Pittsburgh feel like home and pursue it. The busier you are, the less time you’ll have to be homesick. 

Find comfort in the parallels // Tamara Alchoufete, Staff Writer

No city may be the same, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find similarities. Returning to the stressful and chaotic environment of college can often leave us disconnected from the world around us. It can especially take a toll on the hobbies and activities we used to find comfort in while in our hometowns. Why let the grind get in the way of who we are at the core? If you love to rock climb and have fond memories of doing that activity with people you care about somewhere else, find others who enjoy it too here. Finding at least one solid activity to pursue throughout the semester will ground you and give you the motivation to push through all the bad vibes.

Finding people who share similarities with you will help you make a home out of wherever you are. Most of my family is scattered across the globe, and my roots are all the way in Lebanon. It was hard traveling back and forth between those two worlds until I found other Middle Eastern people on campus that I could discuss our cultures with. I joined the Arabic club and others that made me feel like I was part of a community.

You don’t have to stop doing what makes you happy if you’re far away from home. Our campus has many activities and resources to take advantage, but if there isn’t a club you can see yourself in, create your own or even look outside the University for communities you can join.