Homesickness in college students countered with calls, visits home

Julia Matton picks up the phone twice a week to call her mother back at home in New Hampshire to reconnect and talk about their lives while she is 600 miles away at Kent State.

Talking on the phone with her parents is one of the ways Matton deals with stress from being separated from her family. She also goes home on holidays or school breaks to spend time with her hometown friends.

The farther you go the harder it can be for those who have relied on their parents to take care of them in many ways. 

This is not the only type of stress students have to deal with. Apart from homesickness, students often deal with stress due to their grades, making money, maintaining a social life, extracurricular activities, etc. The 2015 National College Health Assessment said 30 percent of the students’ academic performance was affected by stress, and more than 85 percent felt overwhelmed with school-related work.

Students can be depressed and feel lonely when starting fresh and living alone without their parents’ help. “There are difficulties balancing school, work, social life, exercising, etc. It can be difficult and very stress-inducing to be successful in all classes, and when a student who maybe isn’t doing as well as they are used to it can be depressing,” mental health psychology graduate student at Kent State, Taylor Behringer, said.

For some students, their mental health may not be as affected when being on their own, due to them being self-reliant while living at home with parents. Mental health psychology graduate student at Kent State, David Steinberger, said, “It varies on the student’s relationship with their family and how much emotional resilience they’ve built up before living independently.”

A college student’s mental health can be affected by a number of factors. College students face challenges, pressures and anxieties that can cause them to feel overwhelmed. They are also adapting to new schedules and workloads, adjusting to life with roommates and figuring out how to belong.

“I miss my family at times, but I feel like my mental health has not been affected from living far away because I tend to be super independent and enjoy having a separate life here in Kent and another one back at home,” Matton said.

Staying in touch with close friends and parents can help those who are missing them and want to feel loved.

Mental health psychology graduate student Molly Chapman said, “If one is feeling homesick, they can try to set up weekly or monthly dates to FaceTime/call family or friends. Hearing their voice and sharing things about how one’s life is going now that you are far away can help if you’re sad or feeling alone.”

Matton talks to her mother about twice a week if they both aren’t too busy with their schedules. She also goes home on holidays or school breaks to spend time with her hometown friends and family.

Behringer also said, “If a student is feeling really overwhelmed, take a trip back home on a weekend” to rekindle their relationship and not feel as alone.

Making friends and/or joining clubs can help someone who is feeling homesick or wanting to feel like they belong somewhere.

Students may find it difficult to find their place in college. If one’s mental health is affecting their social lives, sometimes one can “benefit from feeling heard and that they are not alone,” Steinberger said. “If counseling is outside your reach, then I recommend staying engaged with things and have a routine that involves nonacademic and non-employment activities.”

Matton is a member of Alpha Xi Delta, a sorority at Kent State, and met many sisters who have become some of her best friends and even roommates. She said being in AXID has helped her mental health and is not homesick as much as she thought she would be.

Moving out of one’s comfort zone and getting involved on campus is a way to meet new people who share common interests and can help you feel like you are at home. Kent State offers a variety of extracurricular activities for people of all interests. From academics to sports, students will be able to find a niche that suits them. If there is no club of interest, students can create their own student organization. 

Connections, whether old ones or new, are what matter the most. Matton relies on her roommates and sorority sisters when she is stressed or in need of a shoulder to lean on. Students are in a new chapter in their lives, navigating obstacles as they come. Matton said if she is ever overwhelmed with her schoolwork, feeling homesick or just wants to hear her parents’ voice, they are always a call away and living with her best friends makes it much easier for her mental health.

Jennifer Lasik covers relationships. Contact her at [email protected].