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"I believe that education is the civil rights issue of our generation." – U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan, October 9, 2009

There’s No Place Like Home: Homesick at College

Since I’m about to enter my senior year of college, I suppose that makes me wise and old, and my advice on surviving freshman year worthy of consideration.

Leaving the nest

“Surviving freshman year.” What does this mean?! Sounds foreboding, but the term means something different for everyone because we each face different battles our freshman year. Some struggle getting along with roomates, adapting to college classes, avoiding the aroma of delicious grilled cheese in the café everyday, or making the mile trek to the grocery store—in the rain. It’s all part of the experience, the college life; it’s a right of passage really.

One thing that many new coming freshmen struggle with but do not always disclose is their case of homesickness.  I was one of them, and sometimes still am. Yes this is embarrassing, but I’m sharing this information to let other college students know that they are not alone.

There seems to be this “image” of a college freshman. You’re supposed to go to parties, make a bunch of new friends, and have the time of your life. But where is homesickness in all of this?

I suppose we are all different. Some may not miss home at all and enjoy having complete freedom away from their family and their hometown. But for me, much to my surprise, this was not the case.

Once the excitement of settling into my dorm room and starting new classes died down, I began to think about home. I remember sitting at my desk in the evenings working on awful calculus homework and thinking about what my family was doing right at that moment. They were probably coming home from work, from after school sports, making wise cracks at each other, and settling down to a meal of good ol’ mac and cheese with sliced hotdogs—yum.

I learned something from this experience.  I learned of how much I cared about my family and how much I enjoyed their company. I realized that my parents had build such a wonderful home for my siblings and I, had provided so much love and encouragement that I simply did not want to leave. Is that so terrible? What about growing up? I’m beginning to sound like Wendy in Peter Pan.

I’ve learned not to fight what is. You can try to deny your homesick symptoms, put on your big girl panties, but in the end it’s still there.

My advice: Know that what you are feeling is normal, that you are not alone, and do what you need to do to bring home to you. If you need to talk to your mom everyday, don’t feel embarrassed to do it. And if you feel like watching your family’s favorite comedy, ask your roommate to join you because I’m sure he or she is feeling the same way too.

College is a time of change and with it comes stress, anxiety, and homesickness. Many people experience these things yet no one talks about it.  Perhaps if we got people talking about it, it would make the transition from home to college a lot smoother.

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