By Ahmad Allaw, College Student Volunteer, Courier & Press, August 25, 2015 –
Not too long ago, I was sitting in the backseat of the family car, my heart beating excitedly, waiting to reach what I hoped would become my home away from home: college. The experience is, quite literally, a momentous occasion. At roughly 18 years old, we, as incoming college students, begin to write our own stories and chart our own paths.
The first few days are as exciting and enriching as expected. We meet new people and explore new places, dine with friends and hear new stories. The independence is both refreshing and empowering.
However, as days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months, the initial excitement wanes and the independence becomes a bit daunting. Soon enough, you may find yourself longing for home.
Getting homesick, of course, is to be expected. After all, moving from one place to another, leaving most of your family and friends, and living on your own is no small change.
However, you — the incoming freshman — don’t want that change to turn into anxiety, and for your anxiety to affect your mental or physical health.
After going through the transition myself, I recommend keeping the following in mind to ease any troubles.
It’s important to realize that, although you may be moving hundreds of miles from family, friends, and home, you aren’t severing any ties. Starting a new chapter of your life doesn’t mean you have to forget all the ones previous.
On the contrary, realize that your present doesn’t exist without your past; you reached the place you reached in large part because of the support of family and friends. Just because you aren’t physically with them doesn’t mean they won’t continue helping when you need help.
Moreover, it’s important to remember that you are likely not the only one who will feel homesick. It is a normal feeling. Almost all of the other incoming freshmen will be in the same position.
Finally, you will have the opportunity to meet incredible people in college, and there will be no shortage of those who share the same interests as you. The easiest way to find such people is through extracurricular clubs and involvement.
Spend time looking at the clubs offered at your school, and you would be hard-pressed not to find something that suits your interests. Soon enough, you will find yourself doing the things you love with people whose company you will enjoy, a second family to ease any burden of longing or homesickness. My closest friends now are the same people that I spent so much time working and collaborating with during the club activities.
For me personally, these small strategies proved invaluable. After the first few weeks of college passed and things became a bit more difficult, I found myself calling my family weekly, talking to them even if just for a little bit. Getting added support, feeling as though someone else is invested in your success, makes you feel more comfortable under academic stress in new surroundings.
And if you find yourself needing support beyond what family and friends can provide, most college campuses have counseling centers experienced in helping students deal with feelings of isolation and homesickness. Seek extra help and support if these feelings start to interfere with your ability to cope with the demands of college life.