The Big Bad H-Word

At some point in our lives, we adventure outside of our houses and away from our parents. Whether this is in second grade for a sleepover, middle school for summer camp, or college for a new beginning, we all have to deal with homesickness.

Starting college is scary. How do we make friends? Is the Freshmen-15 a real thing? Will I get a weird foot disease if I accidentally forget my shower shoes? A lot of these fears are verbally discussed among peers or parents, but I’ve found that no one wants to talk about how much they miss home.

According to Josh Klapow, who is a clinical psychologist and associate professor at the University of Alabama (can’t believe I’m referencing the enemy school,) homesickness is the absence of what we considered normal. The routine that we had at home, the protection that we felt at our house, it’s all gone. To Klapow, homesickness isn’t really a sickness or a disease. He says “it’s normal and adaptive to feel homesick for some period of time. It’s just your emotions and mind telling you you’re out of your element” (CNN.)

The myth is that as soon as you step onto your campus, you’re going to love it and you’re going to fit right in and you’re going to have the best time. And people think something is wrong if they don’t immediately feel that way. But let me tell you, it takes time. Everyone needs a little time to find their place.

I’ll be the first to tell you I was homesick. I was a 14-hour drive away from home, and I had no close high-school friends with me. I felt like I couldn't eat, and I cried at random moments when something sparked a memory of my parents. So learning from my experience, I encourage you to do 5 things:

  • Distract yourself. Go on a walk, watch TV with friends in the common room, explore your new campus! Just do something that gets you out of your dorm room and away from thinking about how much you miss your family.

  • Make friends. I know, easier said than done. But if you put effort into meeting people, you will have lots of new conversations to focus on.

  • Exercise. It will give you endorphins, a chemical that triggers positive feelings within your body. Also, being tired will help you fall asleep faster at night.

  • Don’t go home until college is home. If you go home one of the first weekends at college, not only are you missing valuable time to make friends, but you’re also hurting yourself. Yes it may seem helpful to visit, but it will make leaving harder.

  • Talk about it! Talk to your roommate, talk to your high school friends, talk to your parents, talk to your RA. I promise that no one will judge you or hold it against you. In fact, I found it better to talk about it then try and hold it all down inside.

But for myy best piece of advice: go to the top of the Russell parking deck in the middle of the night and scream. Not only do you have a small moment of what it could have been like if you had been cast in The Perks of Being A WallFlower, but you will also feel strong, confident, and ready to tackle the next day.

Works referenced:

http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/08/16/homesickness.not.about.home/

- Written by Grace G, Gamma Chi -

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