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How First-Year Students Cope With Feeling Homesick

[Editor’s Note:  This article was written by Brittley Gaan.  She is majoring in Creative writing and minoring in Psychology.  She is from Seattle Washington.]

Even though you may be very happy at Lesley, do you ever find yourself feeling homesick? If you do, you’re not alone.  I’ve found surveys which stated that 70-90% of college freshmen report being homesick at some point during their first semester.  Perhaps you felt it at the end of October, when you hadn’t seen your family since move-in day, back in early September.  Or perhaps something reminded you of home, like craving home cooked meals that your mom or dad would make.  Maybe you were missing the outings you took with old friends in your hometown.  You probably missed driving your car, sleeping in your bed, and warm showers in your private bathroom.  I can speak from my own experience:  I’m very close to my family, and I often miss them; I try to call them as much as I can.

Feeling homesick can come up unexpectedly.  The first day of college is hard on all of us, but mostly for parents rather than students.  Parents want to spend every moment with their kids until they release them into the world, while students are wanting their parents to leave them alone so they can go enjoy the college life. Fast forward about two weeks into the semester. You are slammed with homework, you are starting to hate the food, and you are more tired than usual. But, all of the that doesn’t matter because you are more focused on the next party that is happening on Saturday.  A few more weeks go by, and you are stressing. Homework is piling up, you and your roommate don’t get along, and you are slowly getting sick. Then just for one second, while you are doing your homework, you think about being in your own bed back at home.  You think about your hometown:  the smells, the sights, the sounds, the taste, all the memories rush through your body as you imagine home.

It’s understandable. Homesickness is defined as the distress that is caused by an actual separation from one’s home. And the only way of curing it, the only real solution, is to go home. But that isn’t practical. You can’t do that in college, unless you want to drop out.  Here, when you are on your own, you need to be the adult and tell yourself that being homesick is part of college.  It’s easy to tell yourself that this emotion and stress is part of the college experience. The hard part is trying to overcome the emotion and focus on the work that is given to you in your classes. You may think that your professors don’t understand you and they don’t get the stress that you are going through. But they went through the exact process. They went to college and they understand the emotion of being homesick.  However, they need to do their job and focus on your education. And that’s what you need to do too. Your job is to do your work and graduate, once you’ve done that, then you can go home.

It’s hard to get over being homesick:  there really is no easy solution, but there are ways of helping it. To try to forget about home, I recommend doing something fun. Go out with friends, get ice cream, have a movie night.  Or try to talk with someone about it– not like a counselor, but a friend who could help you with your emotions. Some of us join a team, or get involved in a campus club or activity; keeping busy with something you enjoy can really help.   Of course, you can connect with home by writing letters or sending email to your family and friends.  Calling home once in a while is good too, since hearing familiar voices can be comforting.  One little FaceTime or Skype, or even a phone call, can help that feeling of being homesick. These small solutions may seem silly, or maybe you have already tried them, but over time, they really do help. I find that using FaceTime is a good way for me to keep in touch with my family; you can find a way that works best for you.

Rebecca (Becky) O’Neill is an Elementary Education and Global Studies double major;  she comes from Lawrence, Mass.  She says, “Although I only live 45 minutes from home, I still get homesick from time to time. The first week of school I was fine, because I just felt like I was at summer camp. Once it started to sink in that I wasn’t going home for at least an entire month or two, I started to feel really lonely and sad. When I felt really homesick, I just FaceTimed my best friend from home or my Dad.  Although I wasn’t physically there with them, it was comforting to still be able to talk to them and see their faces.”

On the other hand, some students don’t get homesick.  Katelyn Scott, who is majoring in Business and minoring in Global Studies, explains, “Personally I have not been very homesick at all, despite coming from Southern California. This is probably due to the fact that I am a very independent person and didn’t rely on my parents much back home. I am also on the women’s soccer team, and coming to Lesley in early August for pre-season, I built a bond with my team. That has helped me adjust to living so far from home. It may sound weird, but the hardest adjustment was being away from my dogs. They are a big part of my life and act as a stress reliever, so its hard to be away from them. And unlike [my relationship with] my siblings and parents, I can’t FaceTime or call them. I often remind myself that I am very privileged to have the opportunity to come across the country to go to school and experience a new place and way of life. Viewing my college experience as something that is not permanent, and as a new life experience, makes being homesick almost nonexistent. It’s a lot easier for me to focus on the positives rather than the negatives of being away from home and family.”

So, while being homesick may happen a lot, or it may happen a little, if it happens at all, don’t be embarrassed.  Find some good strategies for dealing with it, get involved with campus life, focus on your classes, and above all, enjoy the college experience!


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