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There’s no place like home — but unfortunately, most people can’t click their heels together and magically end up back in their hometowns. Many students travel from far and wide to attend university, sacrificing the comforts of their homes to explore their new unknown city. While being so far away can be an exciting experience, there will be moments where you miss your parents’ homemade meals or even the sound of your annoying sibling’s voice. 

If you’re a student who can’t visit home due to distance or duties, here are some tips on how to bring your home to you.

Ask your parents for recipes or look for alternatives. While the food at the dining hall or the dinner you made isn’t bad, it’s just not the same as the meals you get at home. Sometimes you miss your mom’s dishes or your dad’s desserts, but you don’t have easy access to them as you did before. Asking your parents about how they made some of your favorite foods is a good way to help curb your homesickness, as well as help you gain a new life skill. Going through the process to recreate your favorite dishes will get your mind off being homesick and you’ll get to enjoy some great food. If you absolutely cannot cook, go searching for that food you’re craving from home on Yelp. There’s a possibility it’s being served at a restaurant in the area. While either might not taste exactly the same as when your parents make it, there is still a familiarity that your tastebuds cannot deny.  

Bring pictures and decorations from home.  If you can’t go home, then you can bring your home to you. Hanging pictures of your friends and family around your room will bring you a sense of comfort and you can turn to these photos whenever you do feel homesick. Bringing notes or cards from loved ones that you can reread when you’re feeling down can also help. Personalizing your new room is also important because it will give you a sense of pride and ownership. Even if you’re only staying in that room for a year or two, a couple of decorations will help the room feel more like yours and make it feel like home. 

Reach out when you’re feeling down. It’s not always necessarily about the place you left behind, but the people. When you’re missing home, shoot a quick text to a friend or give your parents a phone call. The familiar voices of your parents or silly banter with a friend will help you feel less lonely and calm your desire to return home. It’s important to be honest about how you’re feeling with someone from home because their reassurance and encouragement is what will keep you going in the future. 

Compile a playlist of songs that remind you of home. Growing up, your parents might have played music that echoed all throughout your house. My parents, for example, always played the same handful of songs whenever we would take long drives and so now those are the songs that I play whenever I travel. Gather all the songs you heard at home over the years; ask your parents for help too if you can’t remember everything. If the titles aren’t in English or you can’t remember a few, then try using Spotify because it provides a recommendation section based on songs you already have on your playlist. All you need to do is listen through and figure out what sounds familiar. Whenever you find yourself missing home, turn on this playlist. Listening to music from your childhood can help you feel more comfortable in your new environment and double as study music. 

Find reasons to love where you are now. The most effective way to deal with homesickness is to distract yourself from it. Instead of focusing on how much you miss home and the comforts that came along with it, think about the things you like about where you are currently. You’re not going to fall in love with your new place right away, so take it day by day. Something I’ve enjoyed doing is putting aside time to write down one good thing that happened that day and drop it in a container. Before you know it, you’ll have a container full of fun memories of a place that you never would have considered calling home. And if you are having trouble finding something that makes you happy in your new city, it’s never too late to turn it around. Explore campus and the surrounding city, join a club or pick up a new hobby; don’t be afraid to try something different. Soon this unknown town will become your new home, you just need to give it a chance.