Home for the Holidays: How to Handle the Stress of Returning Home From College

Last Updated on November 7, 2015

Female college student smiling with parents at home for Holiday breakAs Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz once famously said, “There's no place like home.” While it's true that home provides a feeling of familiarity, reliability, comfort, love, and much more, your sentiments about coming home might be quite different from Dorothy's if you're a college freshman.

Truth be told, after being away at college for months, freshman students develop new habits, behaviors, and beliefs that come hand in hand with having more independence. Without parents to oversee their actions and behaviors, freshman college students are going out late, setting their own rules, it can be hard for a freshman student to return to the nest and live by the rules and expectations of their family. If you're a college freshman who is preparing to head back home for the holidays, here are some things you should ponder over before you fly back to the nest.


Here's the cold, hard truth: you aren't the only person that has changed these past few months. While you've been away at college developing your own independence, so have your parents and siblings back at home. So when you return home, spend some time getting to re-know your family members. It may take a day or two, but familiarize yourself with how they've changed (both physically and emotionally) these past few months. In doing this, they'll get to know the new you and you'll get to know the new them. Change comes as sure as the wind, so it's wise not to expect everything to be exactly the same as it was when you left home.


Don’t be surprised if you feel a little bored while you're back at home. Many of your old friends might not be back in town, or you may find that you all don't have all that much in common with them anymore. It's an unpleasant truth, but it's something that comes along with growing up and moving away. Furthermore, you may find there isn't that much to do to entertain yourself around town, especially if you've grown accustom to a certain way of life while you've been away at college. To avoid long bouts of boredom, start planning a number of holiday break activities you can do while you're back in town. Write out a list of movies you want to see, museum exhibitions you want to visit, holiday shopping lists you need to take care of, friends you want to catch up with, new restaurants you want to try, etc. As long as you plan ahead, you'll be too busy for boredom!

Spatial differences

After I came home my freshman year of college, I was shocked to find that my bedroom had been transformed into a home gym. Suddenly, my new “room” became the smelly pullout sofa in the living room. Don't be surprised if you're parents and/or siblings have made adjustments to your living space while you're been away. After all, you haven't been there to occupy it for quite some time, right? If you discover your room has changed quite a bit, talk to your parents about the matter and decide how you'll handle the change while you're home for the holidays. Don't take it personally either; your parents deserve to utilize that unused space while you're gone.


Unfortunately, petty arguments may come up with your parents and/or siblings while you're back home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's. As I mentioned earlier, you've inevitably gone through a period of change and development while you've been away at school, and sometimes it takes parents and/or siblings a period of time to get used to those new behaviors and habits. Should you find yourself lapsing into conflict with your family, don't fret too much. Change is inevitable, but you should never let it create a rift between you and your family. Keep in mind, you only get to see them for a few weeks, so you should definitely make the most of that time.

If you're heading home for the holidays and are anxious about it, make sure to ponder over these four helpful points!

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