Help! I’m Homesick!
College is a time of new experiences, self- discovery and learning to become an adult while carefully navigating speed bumps in the road. For many students it’s a time of living on campus and away from their homes, their support system, a sense of familiarity and a level of comfort. There are unexpected emotions that can surface when faced with making their own choices and taking responsibility for themselves, especially if they’ve never experienced living away from home before.
One very common emotion that tends to creep up on students is the feeling of being homesick. Many students begin to question how they can feel so alone on a campus buzzing with people and activity. It’s a common feeling and in new surroundings new students don’t have past experiences to fall back on and as a result are more likely to experience lower levels of confidence and self- esteem.
Symptoms of homesickness:
- Feelings of anxiety about being separated from loved ones.
- Feelings of isolation and loneliness.
- Feeling depressed/sad with low motivation to study or make friends.
- Constant thinking about home.
When symptoms of homesickness usually occur:
- Some students will experience mild symptoms of depression and anxiety several weeks before leaving home.
- Other students feel fine at first, but as the excitement wanes several weeks into the semester they start experiencing homesickness.
- The distance between home and school
- Not feeling prepared academically to meet the challenges of college.
- A sense of anticlimax at finally arriving at college after working towards it for so long.
- Contrasts in lifestyles such as differing cultural values or traditions, sexual orientation, geographical differences (i.e. moving from a big city to a small city).
- Financial issues that require the student to work.
Homesickness Vs. depression:
- Students who are depressed to not experience relief from their symptoms when they go home or engage in a favorite activity.
- Students who are homesick find their depressive symptoms disappear when they go home or engage in a favorite activity.
Engage in positive thoughts about yourself and your environment, more than likely your symptoms of homesickness will subside rather than intensify.
Instead of saying: “I don’t fit in here. I want to transfer.”
Try saying: “I am learning how to adjust here. I will give myself more time before I make any big decision to leave.”
It may take some time to adjust to new surroundings and to feel as comfortable here at Hiram as you feel at home. But you are capable of surviving these feelings if you allow yourself time to adjust and get oriented.
The Student Health Center and student counseling services are both available to all traditional students. If you feel you are experiencing homesickness and need some assistance to navigate through this change, call for an appointment at 330-569-5418. Both Student Health and Counseling want you to succeed in your college career.
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” –Alan Watts
*Adapted from: A College Guide to Overcoming HOMESICKNESS Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, 2011.