High school seniors across the country are counting down the days anxiously. Not for prom or the last day of school. They are counting down until they can call themselves high school graduates. After spending more than half their lives in school, seniors cannot wait to finally get hold of a piece of paper that declares them free of their high school education.
To a majority, that piece of paper is the start of their next level of education.
Even though the cost of getting a college education is getting pricier and many seniors are deciding to take the local college or university route, other seniors are packing up their bags to head out to a new area.
The excitement of living in a new location without mom or dad might seem very exciting, but many freshmen end up being diagnosed with homesickness. There’s no shame in trying to deny it because most freshman that are far from home suffer from it once or twice in their college career.
Laura Werthmann, an El Paso native that studied English Literature and Communications at St. Edward’s in Austin, Texas, knew that she wanted to leave El Paso to explore new cities and meet new people. Even though she was far from home, she was not homesick. She even managed to study abroad in France in her sophomore year in college. After her trip, she began to miss home.
“I made sure to call my family everyday and come home for the holidays. Just remember to overcome that homesickness feeling, remember that you are there for a reason, to stay focused and get an education,” said Werthmann.
Laura Ruiz Colon was born and raised in Puerto Rico, but attended high school in Stillwater, Minnesota. She is currently planning to major in Communications with a minor in Legal Studies and History from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When she first visited the campus, she fell in love because she could see herself living there. Even though she was far away from home, she did not get homesick until a couple months into her freshman year, when she already had gotten into the college routine.
“Since [November], I started calling my mom almost every day, up to [three] times during a day. For me, this is really important because we talk about everything and when I see her, it’s like no time has gone by,” said Colon.
Tips to deal with being homesick
Getting rid of homesickness is not difficult. Many students teach their parents how to use Skype or Facetime to communicate more often. Other students call their parents at least once a day to keep them updated with their new lives.
A small step is making the dorm room or apartment home-like. Adding photos of friends and family members around the dorm or apartment, listening to music that’s popular in their hometown or catching up with news are simple ways to get rid of the homesickness.
“My advice to incoming freshman is to stay connected with home friends and family. During the first few months, you have to balance making new friends but also keeping the old [friends]. In fact, that’s not hard due to all the technology we have today,” said Colon.
Werthmann agreed that students that join new organizations feel less homesick due to meeting new people.
“If you’re too distracted, join one of the many clubs or group on campus to keep you busy, get an internship or join an intermural team. Put yourself in situations where you’ll meet new people that will preoccupy your homesick thoughts with new memories,” said Werthmann.
Students who do not move far away to college can also feel homesick when they are on their own for the first time.
Diana Infante, an English major at the University of Texas at Brownsville, decided to stay in her hometown due to financial reasons. She ended up staying at her university dorms and said that the transition to her new dorm was not that hard because her mom made her dorm feel like home.
“I personally feel that I had to grow up a little more when I moved into [my dorm], because I am now responsible for doing chores, cooking my own meals, ensuring that I get enough sleep for next day’s classes, and the like. Your mother isn’t there reminding you to do your duties 24/7,” said Infante.
Infante admits that she does get homesick, but that she just calls her mother to feel better. She adds though that being on her own does have its advantages such as learning responsibility and learning not to be dependent of her mother.
“What is still difficult for me to adjust to is having to share a standard-sized fridge with four other girls and only having a drawer and a small cabinet for your kitchenware,” said Infante.
Communication is an important factor when dealing with homesickness. Many colleges and universities offer mental health services to help those who are having a difficult time adjusting to college or having problems with homesickness.