5 Ways to Ease Homesickness

Homesickness can be one of the toughest, most unexpected challenges when you’re new in college. It can really happen to anyone, even if you’re just one city away from home. 


Homesickness feels a lot like like anxiety or depression and usually happens when we feel disconnected from familiar people and places. There are lots of ways homesickness can present itself but the most common symptoms are comparing your old setting with the new one or wanting to call home frequently. You could also have trouble sleeping or eating, feel nauseous, excessively sad or sluggish. 

It’s important to be able to enjoy your college experience! Not everyone’s process to overcome homesickness may be the same, but here are our best suggestions for dealing with these feelings:

Join a club to meet people.

PSU has your back with over 200 student clubs and groups! From a neuroscience club, to Greek life, to Acapella groups, you will definitely find a group of people with shared interests. The website also has links to volunteer and service opportunities if you want to go beyond campus. When you’re feeling down, it’s important to branch out and talk to new people! Even if it’s difficult, and especially if you don’t feel like it. The more you get out there, the more chances you’ll have to meet new friends. 

Visit SHAC.

All students enrolled in at least five credits can visit the Center for Student Health and Counseling (SHAC). Counseling Services offers brief individual and group counseling, crisis/emergency services, and workshops throughout the year to support your transition to PSU. Getting help is a really smart and brave thing to go. Actually a lot of students experience homesickness, so you are not alone. Definitely consider visiting SHAC for other health and wellness needs, too, from health and dental check ups, to acupuncture, to scheduling a time in the Mind Spa, which features a massage chair, light therapy and biofeedback games to help you relax.

Distract yourself!

One of the best ways to get yourself out of a funk is to just focus on something else for a little while. Go to the library to study rather than your dorm room, or go for a walk, or check out a new coffee shop, or visit a thrift store. There are unlimited things going on in the city pretty much all the time, you just have to get out there. The 5th Avenue Cinema is a student-run cinema that shows FREE movies for PSU students. The PSU Farmers Market is every Saturday, rain or shine, right on campus at the park blocks. The more places you go, the more people you will meet, and the more chances you’ll have to make friends. Our Visitor Guide also has tons of student-recommended activities (a bunch of them free or discounted for PSU students), restaurants and other cool spots to visit.

Visit the Campus Rec Center.

When you’re feeling bad, it can sound really tempting to loaf under a blanket and dig into a massive tub of ice cream, but this will likely only make you feel worse. To combat this, get some exercise to get those endorphins flowing, our body’s natural feel-good hormones. I always remind myself that the hardest part about going to the gym is just getting dressed and heading out the door. The Rec Center also makes it super easy and convenient to get a sweat going, with all kinds of fitness options, including an Olympic size pool, a hot tub, cardio and weight rooms, and a rock-climbing wall! They also offer a wide range of group fitness classes, including yoga, cycling, and Zumba. If you want to get started but are not sure how, there are also educational classes like lifting and rock climbing for all skill levels. Exercise is so good for our well-being. It has been shown to improve sleep, build confidence, tone muscle, and help with anxiety and depression.

Do you also like getting exercise outdoors? Spending time in nature reduces anxiety and depression and it can be fun to go on an adventure. Our Outdoor Program offers guided hikes throughout the state with a 50% discount for students.

Talk with friends and family back home.

This is an important step. Talking with your loved ones can help you feel more connected and loved. They will want to hear all about your new adventure here. And this is a great time  to ask for a care package including anything from home that would make you feel more comfortable, like photos or blankets, or even a stuffed animal (hey, no judgement here). 

However, just keep in mind that it’s important to not over-rely on your family and avoid your new world. If you notice that you’re spending more of your time talking with people back home than exploring your new environment, you will only prolong these bad feelings. You should set up a weekly time to call or FaceTime back home. This will help you create the space you need during the rest of the week to connect with your life at PSU and gives you something to look forward to.

BONUS tip: Talk to a Professor or Staff Member.

PSU faculty and staff are sympathetic and they want to see you do well here! Do you feel particularly fond of one of your professors, or another staff member like a Resident Assistant? These people are good to reach out to and are here to help you. For so many things, the stress that comes with big changes can be managed by simply talking to someone about what is on your mind. There is a good chance they have also experienced some kind of homesickness at one point and can give you some tips to get adjusted, or even just an open ear to hear you out.

Remember that it’s normal and common to feel homesick during your college experience and that it’s okay to miss home. These feelings normally pass on their own over time, but if they don’t pass or even get worse, there are resources here for when you need the help. Who knows, maybe when you return home you’ll be homesick for Portland! 

Four Essential Autumn Hikes Near Portland



As the days get shorter and temperatures get colder, it might seem like it’s not worth getting motivated to explore the outdoors. One of the best things about attending Portland State is the easy access to nature — any time of year. We’re 90 miles to the coast and 90 miles to Mt. Hood and there’s plenty to explore in between. Here are some nearby hikes that are especially amazing during the fall and cannot be missed out on:


Forest Park – Lower Macleay Trail

Difficulty level: Beginner
Distance: 1.7 miles
Distance from PSU: 11 minute drive, 1 hour on public transportation

Spanning 5,200 acres, Forest Park is one of the largest urban forests in the United States. This lush forest stretches eight miles along the northeast slope of the Tualatin Mountains. The Lower Macleay Trail follows Balch Creek, and hikers can expect to cross several wooden bridges. This trail passes the famous “Stone House”, otherwise known as the “Witch’s Castle,” a 1936 building that has since been abandoned and covered in lichen. Forest Park is a wonderful hike for visitors to experience the beauty of Oregon forests without leaving the Portland city limits.

Trillium Lake

Difficulty level: Beginner
Distance: 2 miles
Distance from PSU: 90 minute drive

There’s a reason this hike is popular. Views of Mt. Hood across a serene mountain lake make it worth the trek. And it’s beautiful year-round; in the fall the beauty is in the leaves and the reflections off the glassy water. It features gorgeous views of Mt. Hood and a wooden boardwalk that winds through the forest. It’s only two miles with a minimal incline, making this hike great for first-timers. Ducks and geese live near the lake, and you might get lucky and see deer grazing among the trees. In the winter, it’s a great beginner snowshoeing trail. Don’t own snowshoes? Rent them from the Outdoor Program!

Silver Falls – Trail of 10 Waterfalls

Difficulty level: Moderate, with lots of stairs (can be icy in cold temps)
Distance: 8.6 miles
Distance from PSU: 90 minute drive

Have you ever walked behind a waterfall? This is one of the most stunning hikes in Oregon and one of the most photographed waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest. 50 miles south of Downtown Portland, this hike ambles through lush forest, and takes you past waterfalls that are up to 200 feet tall! This is a long, winding hike, but it’s well maintained and the elevation gain is moderate. You can park at one of the many entrances and take the shorter two or four mile loops.

PSU Outdoor Program is leading a group hike at Silver Falls on November 23! Check out their schedule to view the full list of events.

Cape Horn Trail

Difficulty level: Strenuous
Distance: 6 mile loop
Distance from PSU: 45 minute drive

While this hike is in Washington, just across the Columbia River, it’s only a stone’s throw away from the Portland State campus. If you are up to the challenge of scaling steep inclines and braving muddy trails, you will be able to experience the breathtaking panoramic views of the Columbia River Gorge. This hike also takes you past tumbling waterfalls and gives an epic display of the changing autumn foliage.

Oregon is known for its beautiful scenery and there is no shortage of adventure in the area. If you need a little extra motivation to get out and explore this season, head on over to the Portland State Outdoor Program where you can find affordable gear rentals and sign up for guided trips year-round. Have fun out there, and be sure to tag @go2psu on your adventure.

Upcoming Events: May 2019

May Events

This May, Portland State is encouraging students to nourish their bodies and minds. PSU is hosting events on and off campus centered on sustainability, wellness and art from diverse cultures. Here are just some of the inspiring events taking place this May. For a more comprehensive list, check out the PSU events calendar.

Noon Concert Series

Every Thursday | 12:00-1:00 p.m. | Lincoln Recital Hall
This weekly concert series is hosted by the PSU School of Music. At these events, students, faculty and guest artists will perform various instruments and music genres. The concerts are always free and open to the public. View their performance calendar.

All Majors Career and Internship Fair

Thursday, May 2 | 11:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m. | SMSU Ballroom (3rd floor)
PSU students and alumni of all majors are invited to attend this event, which brings in over 80 employers from a variety of industries—see which ones suit your skills and interests. Take this opportunity to make progress on your job and internship search by networking with employers and making a great first impression! Learn about different career paths and ask your career questions directly to employers. This is a free event. See what you should do to prepare.

Fridays@4: Architecture Series

Every Friday | 4:00 p.m. | Shattuck Hall
Each Friday during most of the academic term, PSU School of Architecture students and faculty gather together to hear from professional designers and architects, academics, visiting artists, innovators and students in the program. This free event is open to the public and provides refreshments. See calendar for information about each event.

Be Honest! PSU Graphic Design Portfolio Showcase

Saturday, May 4 | 5:00-9:00 p.m. | Wieden + Kennedy, 244 NW 13th Ave
Be Honest is the PSU Graphic Design annual student portfolio showcase. All graphic design students who want to participate will display their work. It’s part portfolio show, part party, part open house, part alumni reunion, part scholarship ceremony and all fun! This event is free and open to the public. Learn more.

Coastal Camping

Saturday, May 4-Sunday, May 5 | weekend trip | Oregon Coast
Travel across time with PSU’s Outdoor Program through the history of the Oregon Coast on this oceanside camping trip. At Ecola State Park, take in the lush, temperate rainforest of the coast and the stellar ocean views. After a night camping in the fresh ocean air, you’ll get to explore Fort Stevens State Park, learn about the colonization of the Columbia River estuary and visit the remains of a hundred-year-old shipwreck. This trip is designed for all abilities and can be easily modified to accommodate disabilities. The trip costs $110 for Rec Center members (all PSU students pay for membership in their tuition and fees) and $190 for non-members, which pays for transportation, trip leaders, meals and all necessary equipment. Learn more and see other trips.

Pride Kickball Tournament

Tuesday, May 7 | 6:00-8:00 p.m. | Stott Field
Celebrate PSU Pride month (May) with the Queer Resource Center! Wear your pride colors and relive recess with a spirited game of kickball. Winners will receive a championship t-shirt. This event is free for Campus Rec members (all PSU students pay for membership in their tuition and fees) and $7 for guests. Register online.

Nourish Wellness Fair

Wednesday, May 8 | 12:00-2:00 p.m. | Viking Pavilion
Attend PSU’s annual Nourish Wellness Fair to learn more about wellness resources on and off campus. Receive free massages, healthy food samples, fresh produce and more. This event is free and open to the entire PSU community. Valid PSU ID required. Learn more.

Manuel Arturo Abreu: Beneath the Music from a Farther Room

Thursday, May 9 | 5:00-7:30 p.m. | AB Lobby Gallery, Art Building
The AB Lobby Gallery presents a solo show of new work by Manuel Arturo Abreu featuring sculpture, printed matter and video work exploring the musicality of abstraction and the veil of language. This event is the opening reception, and the work will be on display until May 23. The opening reception is free and open to the public.

Pacific Islanders Club 17th Annual Lu’au

Saturday, May 11 | 4:00 p.m. | AB Lobby Gallery, Art Building
Every year, the Pacific Islanders Club hosts a lu’au, an important cultural tradition around the Pacific that has been adopted by cultures around the world. This year’s theme, “Let The Legends Be Told,” showcases the stories of the island nations represented in the club including Hawai’i, Fiji, Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand and Palau. You’ll eat culturally-inspired food, watch performances by members of the community and see a special appearance by Tolo Tuitele and Kaloku & Da Krew. This event is free for PSU students with proof of ID. Tickets cost $10 for faculty and staff, $12 for pre-sale and $15 at the door for the general public. Learn more.

How Race Is Made in America: Natalia Molina Lecture

Tuesday, May 14 | 5:00 p.m. | SMSU Ballroom (3rd floor)
Come listen to this lecture by Dr. Natalia Molina, who will illustrate how broad themes of race and citizenship are constructed and explore how “racial scripts” are easily applied to different peoples, places and events. Register for this free event online.

Reuse Pop-Up Swap

Thursday, May 16 | 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. | SW Montgomery between 6th Ave and Broadway
PSU Reuses is hosting this swap, where campus and community members are invited to leave something, take something or do both! Donate household goods, office supplies, clothing and non-perishable foods. There will also be a bin to collect e-waste for any broken electronics or appliances. We are not able to accommodate furniture or broken or hazardous materials such as chemicals. This is a free event.

Chamber Choir: Surprise!

Friday, May 17 | 7:30 p.m. | St. Philip Neri Catholic Church
The Portland State Chamber Choir celebrates guest tenor Paul Sperry’s 85th birthday with a concert of American premieres, new works and old favorites. The program includes the American premiere performances of “Vineta” and “Es Rakstu” by Eriks Esenvalds as well as new arrangements of music by American composers Richard Hundley, Paul Bowles and Dudley Buck. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online.

Music That Binds Us

Saturday, May 18 | 1:30-3:00 p.m. | Lincoln Recital Hall
Join us for an afternoon of music you won’t soon forget! Six local composers join forces to create this exciting one-time only concert. This performance entwines moving audio recorded stories of everyday people with beautifully composed music commissioned with each story in mind to create a powerful and thought-provoking exhibit of the human experience. This concert is full of everything it means to be human—love, loss, sadness, triumph and tribulations. This event is free and open to the public. Reserve your seat.

12th Annual Sustainability Celebration

Thursday, May 23 | 3:00-5:00 p.m. | SMSU Ballroom (3rd floor)
This once-a-year extravaganza of inspiration provides a lively overview of sustainability initiatives, projects and programs at PSU. You’ll have the opportunity to mix and mingle with the most forward-thinking students, staff and faculty on campus. This event features an awards ceremony, project showcase, live music and free food. RSVP online.

Vikings Sports

Vikings Softball and Track events are happening all month. Make sure to check out the PSU Vikings event calendar for a detailed schedule.

Freshman Year at PSU: What to Expect

Freshman Year at PSU

So, you’re thinking about going to college. Everyone talks about how different it is from high school, but it’s hard to imagine what it will actually be like. To help you know what to expect from your freshman year at Portland State, we’ve asked some current PSU students what their experience was like when they first started out.


How does being a freshman at PSU compare to being in high school?

Overwhelmingly, the PSU students we talked to said being in college is liberating. You have more freedom, both in your schoolwork and personal life. It can feel like an daunting change at first, but once you find community on campus, you’ll have a support network.

‘It felt more liberating and like I could be my own person and take care of myself. But I felt like I still had support from PSU.’

Check out PSU’s extensive list of student groups, so find one you’re interested in and join! This is a perfect way to find a like-minded community on campus. There are also many resource centers that provide students with services and safe spaces to work on homework or relax.

Check them out:

Favorite part about being a freshman at PSU?

PSU offers many resources for students to adjust to college life.

‘I loved being able to explore the endless amounts of resources at PSU, like the tutoring services and Rec Center. They helped me see everything with fresh eyes and take it all in.’

Even though college coursework can be challenging at first, you never have to feel overwhelmed. You can get help with most subjects in the Learning Center, which offers both in-person and online tutoring. If you need help with any stage in the writing process (brainstorming and understanding assignments included), visit the Writing Center. Schedule an appointment online or visit during drop-in hours to meet with a tutor.

Stay fit by visiting PSU’s Rec Center. Climb the rock wall, swim in the pool, relax in the hot tub, use fitness equipment, take classes (like yoga or Zumba) and much more. You can even explore the Pacific Northwest by going on a backpacking or kayaking trip with the Outdoor Program.

Keep your mind and body healthy by using the Center for Student Health and Counseling (SHAC). All students taking five or more credits pay a Student Health Fee, which gives them access to SHAC medical, counseling and dental services, regardless of whether they have PSU insurance. The Student Health Fee covers most medical and counseling services, including the Mind Spa, a space for relaxation through meditation, yoga, biofeedback, massage and light therapy.

Something unexpected about being a PSU student?

In high school, you rarely get to choose what classes you take. Of course, students have to take prerequisites at Portland State, but there’s so much more freedom to choose classes that interest you. The students we talked to were surprised by how much they loved their classes.

‘I didn’t expect that I would love my classes as much as I have. You get out of it what you put in, and I truly enjoy learning now.’

One of the unique things about PSU is that we have advising pathways. Similar majors are grouped together, so you can pick an area you’re interested in and stick with that advisor, even if you change majors. Your advisor can help you figure out your future career and suggest classes for you to take. Find your advisor and schedule an appointment.

Don’t be nervous about your classes. Advisors, tutors, resource center staff and your professors are here to help you succeed.

‘I didn’t expect to succeed as well as I am. It’s nice to know that passing classes isn’t as hard as I thought it’d be, especially since all professors have office hours and are willing to help students whenever they need extra assistance or clarification.’

You can find your professor’s office hours and contact information on their syllabus. If you can’t make their office hours, don’t hesitate to contact them to schedule an appointment.

What do PSU students wish they knew during freshman year?

When you’re worried about getting settled in, it can be stressful figuring out how you’ll pay for college. But there are so many opportunities at PSU and through the connections you’ll make here to find jobs and internships.

‘I wish I had known more about Handshake and other resources for finding jobs and internships.’

Handshake is an online application that helps you apply for jobs and internships at PSU and beyond. Getting a job on campus is a great way to connect with other student workers. And the best part is that on-campus jobs work with your school schedule—their first priority is helping you succeed as a student.

There are many other opportunities for you to pay for college at PSU.

‘I wish I knew more about how to get the most financial aid!’

Connect with the Financial Aid office and apply for financial aid every year. PSU also has an extensive list of scholarships. October 1 is the scholarship application deadline, so get a head start. Scholarships have different requirements, like essays and references.

Read our blog about understanding financial aid.

Major takeaway?

College is worth it! At Portland State, you’ll make lasting connections with people from diverse backgrounds. You’ll learn and grow as a student and person.

‘College is worth it, not just the academics, but the whole experience of meeting new people and gaining new experiences.’


Worried you’ll be homesick your first year? Check out our blog outlining all the PSU resources that can help ease homesickness.

A Place for Adventure

While PSU is definitely an urban campus, that does not mean that we vikings aren’t all about getting into nature. Wanna go to the coast? Sure, it’s just 90 minutes away. The mountains? Go hiking around Mt. Hood or in the Columbia Gorge. Feeling aquatic? Paddle out onto the nearby Willamette or Columbia Rivers.

“I love the access PSU has to wild spaces. It was one of the big reasons I wanted to come here,” says Jacob McCoola, a second-year graduate student in the Leadership and Sustainability Education program.

“Portland was the perfect fit for me. I had always wanted to live in a big city, and not only did Portland seems like a very cool place to live, culturally, but it had such unique closeness to the outdoors.”

Jacob, who spent two years as a naturalist in Colorado and has an intense fondness for outdoor education, is able to complement his degree program (the only one of its kind in Oregon) by working with PSU’s Outdoor Program.

The Outdoor Program, which is in its 50th year, is a resource center aimed at getting students into the outdoors by offering day hikes, weekend camping trips, rock climbing excursions, and much more, all of which are led by students.  

“It feels like half of my education has come from working with the Outdoor Program.” Jacob wants to continue using the skills he is gaining through the Program into life after college as an outdoor and sustainability educator.

“It’s the oldest university outdoor program in the country.” Jacob is not only an Outdoor Program Trip Leader, guiding students through explorations of the outdoors, but also the Program’s Outreach Coordinator.

“Being a trip leader is an amazing experience, and really helps students, myself included, gain leadership and management skills.” Any student, regardless of major can become a trip leader by completing the Outdoor Program’s Wilderness Leadership Development program (WiLD). “We get trip leaders from all over the university. We’ve had environmental science majors, linguistics majors, music majors. Anyone with a passion for the outdoors can do it.”

This inclusivity doesn’t only extend to the staff at the Outdoor Program.

The Program isn’t just for students who have experience in the outdoors, but for students seeking to learn new skills, broaden their knowledge of being outside and get to know their fellow students.

“We strive to make our trips and events accessible for all students, regardless of ability.” The Program often collaborates with the Disability Resource Center on campus to find ways to include all types of students in Outdoor Program trips.

“We recently had an awesome paddle boarding event out on the coast that we designed so that it would be inclusive for students with disabilities. It was great and everyone had an amazing time.”  

Jacob’s advice for students who want to make use of the Outdoor Program is simple.

“Come on a trip, any trip! I can’t think of a better way to meet people and form a real sense of camaraderie. Plus, it’s an adventure, and who doesn’t want that?”

Check out the Outdoor Program trip schedule!

Learn how to become a Trip Leader!