10 Movies to Watch When You're Homesick in College

At summer camp, we’d give the homesick kid a paper cup of cherry Powerade and say, “It’s homesickness medicine. Now drink it.”

The placebo worked, and at the campfire that night, the child sang and told stories to the rest of us. Homesickness is a mind thing.

Take a bowl of microwavable popcorn (or your placebo of choice) and grab one of these movies to cure your homesick hangover.

1. “Where The Wild Things Are”

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Image from Andrea Rodriguez Pavon

It’s a children’s classic. Max is sent to his room without supper and, in his imagination, travels to a world where he is king of the Wild Things. Spike Jonze’s adaptation captures the feeling of being misunderstood, and reaching into your self to find your own sense of home.

Watching Max yell at the top of his lungs “Let the wild rumpus start!” with Karen O. and the Kids on the soundtrack is almost like reading the original Maurice Sendak book under the covers with a flashlight.

2. “Into the Woods”

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Image from Walt Disney Studio AU

In fairy tales, stories set in the woods are about confronting fears and facing the unknown. Going to the woods is part of the archetypal journey of leaving home. The movie won’t come out until Christmas, but you can get your cinematic fill of Stephen Sondheim’s fairy tale musical before it hits theaters. Get your hands on the PBS film of the live Broadway performance. You’ll be singing along with the Witch from next door in no time.

3. “Wizard of Oz”

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Image from Josh Berglund19

You’d think Dorothy’s line “there’s no place like home,” would make you more homesick than you already are, but there’s something cathartic about watching someone else try to get home that makes you feel so much better. Pair Dorothy with Finding Nemo when the homesickness is off the charts.

4. “Big Fish”

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Image from Huffington Post

The stories your parents told you when you were a kid can be a source of inspiration for how you face challenges. In Tim Burton’s fantasy tale of a father’s wild adventures, a son finds himself reliving them in order to make peace with his dying dad. Homesickness is a nostalgic reaction to the past, and this movie visualizes how our past stories seep into the present.

5. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”

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Image from Will Cong

Eradicating your memories is probably not a good idea right before finals, but this movie hits on the quintessential problem of the blues, and how to deal with not quite feeling at home in the world.

6. “Christmas Vacation”

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Image from Mr-Movie

There’s something about watching Christmas movies in September that make it all feel better. It’s like watching “Pieces of April” when it’s not Thanksgiving or “It’s a Wonderful Life” during the summer. It’s also hilarious to see Johnny Galecki as Chevy Chase’s son.

7. “Spaceballs”

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Image from Insomnia Cured Here

In 2024, college students will watch Guardians of the Galaxy when they’re feeling blue (it’s that good of a movie), but in the meantime, get your galactic longing for home rectified in this wacky Mel Brooks screwball space comedy. It’s silly, but Rick Moranis is priceless in his parody of Darth Vader.

8. “E.T.”

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Image from Luz Adriana Villa

E.T. is a botanist from another planet. What’s not to love? Maybe a longing for home is a universal emotion experienced by all sentient creatures. Doesn’t that make you feel better already?

9. “The Pursuit of Happyness”

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Image from Popcorn Reel

It’s a play on the American Dream, but any movie with Will Smith should cheer you up, and the fact that it’s a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps kind of movie will steel your resolve to work really hard on that ridiculously intimidating class you have to take this semester.

10. “Children of Heaven”

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Image from The Healers

In this beautiful Iranian film, the message is that sharing is caring, and it provides a glimpse into a home where the children learn to help each other rather than fight. Ali loses his sister Zahra’s shoes. Since they both need their shoes to get to school, Ali decides to let her use his shoes for morning class, and for the afternoon, she has to rush back home so he can make it to his afternoon classes on time. Sometimes home is not a place, but a way of being with others.

The formula for choosing a movie to help you cope with homesickness is easy. Choose a movie that is not jaded nor overly sentimental. Either a movie that takes places in your hometown or a movie from your childhood also works, but the best movie to cure homesickness is the one that will give you a fresh new look at what it means to be at home.

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