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How To Better Deal With Homesickness

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For most students, college is the first significant time away from home and the transition can be difficult.

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The truth can now be told: Those "homesickness pills" your mother packed when you went off to summer camp as a kid were placebos. Shocking!

Nevertheless, there will be times when the freshman dorm could use a handful of Mom's old cure. For most students, college is the first significant time away from home and the transition can be difficult.

Some kids try to spend their way out of loneliness, buying stupid stuff that has a half-life of about a month. Others overeat, the source of the dreaded "freshman 15." (That's pounds, not IQ points.)

There is no guaranteed path to nirvana as a freshman, but there are basic steps you can take to avoid blowing out your budget or ballooning your gut to in an effort to ease the freshman blues:

  • Join a special interest group. Follow your passion in poetry, chemistry, drama, computer geekdom – you name it. This is a great way to meet kindred souls and revel in whatever it is that turns you on. It's also a lot cheaper than shelling out big bucks for a stupid movie that you'll see alone while stuffing empty calories in your yap.

  • Stay active. If you played intramural sports in high school, there's no reason to stop during your freshman year. Dig out your field hockey stick or softball bat! If there's a hiking club and you have a fondness for tramping through the woods, here's your chance to discover new trails while avoiding the poison ivy. Fees are likely to be moderate.

  • Watch what you eat. Loneliness often engenders inertia, ennui, lassitude and all that tedious stuff you really ought to save for your sophomore year when you become a bohemian poet. Comfort food is a real danger, and not a cure. Avoid it. Your waistline and budget will benefit. And face it: Your chances of meeting someone you might want to spend some time with are better at the local farmer's market or organic food store than at Greaseburger, Inc.

  • Get a phone card . Don't just pick up the phone and call home because the toll charges take a big bite out of your budget. Just about everyone and his uncle offers phone cards so shop around for the best deal. Using the card will require you to dial enough extra numbers to gag a horse as you punch in your account number and PIN, but you'll save mucho $$$.

  • Limit travel. Novelist Thomas Wolfe wrote You Can't Go Home Again. Well, you can but just not every other week without destroying your budget. Staying at school will save money and allow you to study.

    Your parents will be delighted to see you during the holidays and other planned trips, but not necessarily on frequent "emergency" pilgrimages back to the nest.
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