Being away from home is hard. Being away from home facing the stresses of college is even harder.

There is no perfect way to truly combat being homesick, but there are things that can truly help. As a senior in college, I've recently reflected on everything that has helped me (and is still helping me) feel a little less homesick day by day. 

1. Talking on FaceTime 

This one may seem like common sense to a lot of you reading, but I feel like FaceTime is often forgotten as a means of dealing with homesickness. Sure we can text, or talk on the phone, but there is something about being face to face with a loved one or friend that makes it seem like you're with them. Also, putting aside the time to have an in-person conversation and catch up will not only relax you, but will also give you a break from anything school-related. Whether it's venting for 2 hours to my best friend over a glass of wine or making a cup of tea to catch up with my mom or dad (and see my dogs), FaceTime is good for the mind and soul.

Jenna Carellini

One of my favorite ways to feel at home is FaceTiming my parents when our favorite show is on and watching it together. Being 200 miles away can't stop us from watching This Is Us together! 

2. Volunteering 

This is one tip that I unfortunately waited until my senior year in college to part take in, but I really wish I would have started this sooner. There is something that volunteering gives you that nothing else can. It places you somewhere else, you're not left to worry about homework or school or being stressed because your mind is somewhere else. Not only are you helping others and doing good, but you're also making connections with other humans and forming friendships that would not have come about otherwise. Having these connections makes you feel less homesick. If you're in a college town, there are likely endless opportunities for volunteering, and these organizations probably need your help!

The wonderful staff at Not Bread Alone in Amherst, MA is a community meal program that offers FREE homemade, hot meals and groceries. I have volunteered here for 2 short months and have already felt so much love! 

3. Exploring the Area Around You 

One of the pros of going to college is the privilege of being able to live in a new place for the first time in your life. Although it may not seem like it, most college towns are filled with so much to explore and see. From restaurants, to hiking spots and even just driving around, there is an abundance of places to expose yourself to. By doing this, you're able to not only find places you love and fun things to do to the weekends, but you also make this new place feel like a home away from home. I know one of the best things about my college town (Amherst, MA) is how beautiful it is in the fall. But I also know that fall time is when I miss home the most. I love to cozy myself up in a coffee shop, go apple picking at a local orchard, or go to the town events that are always happening here. When I'm emerged in the beautiful fall happening here, my homesickness subsides. Getting to know where you are will create a second home for you, and it is a really amazing thing to have! 

Jenna Carellini

Puffer's Pond is one of my favorite places in Western Massachusetts. It isn't just beautiful in the summer; late fall is the perfect time for a really pretty hike! 

4. Get Involved Academically or Socially

Getting involved is another thing I really wish I found earlier in college. Similar to volunteering, being involved helps create a solid community of friends and peers. Whether it be academically or socially, it gives you a great network of people around you. What I found helpful is to search within my major for academic opportunities (being a TA, peer advisor, research assistant, tutor, etc.) These positions allow you to gain experience, use your knowledge, and get to know other people in your major. Aside from your major, religious or cultural groups, sororities or fraternities, hobby based clubs or even organization based groups will allow you to take things that you enjoy and enjoyed in high school, and find a place in college were you can connect with people who enjoy the same things you do. 

5. Make Time For What You Enjoy 

This one may seem simple, but in a place where you can easily be influenced by those around you, finding time to do things to make yourself happy really makes a difference in your overall mental health. For me, a lot of my homesickness subsided when I developed a routine of things I knew I enjoyed, even if that meant doing them alone. Don't get me wrong, sharing these things with others is nice, but having the alone time to spend doing things you love is necessary. Developing a night time routine of journaling and meditating, going to church on Saturday afternoons or even baking my favorite recipe allows me to step back from thinking about what others are doing and focus on what makes me happy.

Jenna Carellini

One of my favorite pastimes is checking out the local farmers market every Saturday in the spring and fall. It's a nice way to decompress and enjoy the weather, not to mention the abundance of goods from local farms! 

For most of us, college is the first time we are away from home. It is a transitional period and it takes time to find your groove. You are going to miss home, and you might wish you were there some of the time, and that's okay. Those feelings are totally valid. But it's also important to focus on where you are right now.

I spent a lot of college saying, "I can't wait to be home" or "I can't wait to be done with school" and I can tell you right now, it doesn't make being away from home any easier.

I urge you to enjoy where you are and enjoy your time away at school, because this is a time that you will never get back. My mom always said, "you have the ability to grow and love wherever you are, you just have to let yourself" and finding true happiness while being away from home has shown me that.