Opinion: Homesickness is normal

Carlyle Addy

If you’re like most college students, freshmen in particular, you’re probably missing your parents right now. The student groups, classes, parties and new friends might be distracting you, but they’re still in the back of your mind.

Most of us know that we bond with our parents as babies, and throughout childhood. A 2004 study published in Science magazine showed that maternal bonding is actually hardwired into the brains of mammals.

According to a 2010 study led by Leslie Seltzer, for girls aged seven to 12, a phone call from their mothers reduced stress as much as actually interacting in person with her, causing cortisol levels to decrease.

Leaving that constant interaction can be difficult for all of us. We’re all in the same position here. If those long hours and complex notes and compact living spaces (with or without AC) aren’t making college life tough enough, it’s the pictures that you see on your desk of your folks back home that are getting you down.

So, what are we supposed to do about it? According to Elizabeth Van Brocklin, a writer for Duke magazine, “The only way to get over homesickness is to reintegrate in the new environment. Joining groups, meeting people and developing friendships will eventually create a new supportive environment.”

If this sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve probably heard it sometime over the past week. It’s cliché advice that your advisors, RAs and professors have probably all given you. 

Let’s be honest; finding your classes the first week without being late feels like overburdening yourself. Falling asleep when people are constantly slamming their doors at all hours of the night feels like a marathon. Reading and taking notes over chapters for every class can sometimes seem like a medal-worthy achievement. Anything beyond that and you can almost consider yourself an Olympian.

For the next few months, Kent State is home. If you live in-state, you might go home for weekends, but at least temporarily, you’re here.

Make new friends. There are three questions you should ask whoever you run into. “What’s your name, what’s your major, what’s your favorite song?”

Actually, skip the first two, because we’ve all been asked those a dozen times.

If you see someone eating alone, go ask to sit with them. Every other table can be empty, but companionship is always preferable to solitude.

Join a club. Join two clubs. Don’t join three clubs. This campus has a lot of great student groups, but all of them place demands on your time, and even small demands become very intimidating when you’ve had an all-night study session.

Exercise. It might be true that walking to class across campus is the most active you’ve ever been, but it’ll be a much easier walk if you make a point to get in shape.

Eat junk food sometimes. This point in your life is likely to be one of the few that you can eat three donuts for breakfast and have a deep fried pickle for lunch without having to rest your tray on your belly.

Last but not least, if you miss your family and friends back home, call them. It’s not lame and it’ll make you feel better.

Carlyle Addy is an opinion writer for The Kent Stater. 

Contact her at [email protected]