Learning to live away from home

Dyson Turner

Homesickness creeps up on you when you least expect it, often when it is most inconvenient. But, have no fear, Kent State has resources designed to help you cope.

“I think so many individuals come to college with the unrealistic notion they are just going to be super stoked to be away from home, that it’s just going to be awesome and nothing but a good time,” said Caleb Kunkel, graduate counseling practicum student. “That’s not always true.”

The Counseling and Human Development Center (CHDC) located in White Hall provides free counseling to all students. Residents Services is the organization that oversees campus living, their philosophy boils down to: Kent State is home away from home.

“There’s a bit of a balance there that students need to find and we just help them to find that balance,” said CHDC Director Jason Miller.

The CHDC helps homesick students to find “that balance between being involved here on campus and still having a life back at home,” said Miller. “I don’t want to sound old fashioned, but with the generation now where everyone is texting, I think that [students] can be more involved with people that they know hundreds of miles away rather than people here on campus,” said Miller.

“What we can provide the students are some tips and tools to get involved with campus,” he added.

The CHDC sees a large influx of students around mid October. For Kent State students, mid October is crunch time; Thanksgiving break is a week away and midterm exams and papers are due in many classes.

Kunkle thinks the college student midterm crisis may be “because they don’t have those tight-knit connections here that they have back at home.”

“Even adjustment issues that aren’t primarily attributed to homesickness could still be a result of homesickness,” said Kunkel.

“It’s not easy for anybody to just come to a university,” said Residence Hall Director (RHD) Eron Memaj.

Residence Services employs RHDs to manage Residence Assistants (RAs). RAs live in every dormitory on campus; RHDs ensure RAs provide plenty of activities to engage students in campus living.

“We try to make the students as comfortable as we can,” said Memaj.

Memaj requires that all his RAs hand out surveys to their residents at the beginning of the year.

“The RA has a very good idea of what the residents are interested in and how to reach them,” said Memaj.

All RAs are required to host 15 hours worth of community activities each week. RAs spend 10 of their community activity hours walking around the floor talking to residents.

“They reach out to them,” said Memaj. “A good RA will … be able to understand what [residents] needs are and [know] whom he or she needs to reach more.”

“[We] make sure that students feel a part of the community and [we] try to make it [their] home,” said Memaj.

“Homesickness eases when [students] have a place that [they] can call [their] own … and identify with,” said Kunkel.

For more information about the Counseling and Human Development Center visit their website or call (330) 672-2208. The CHDC’s counseling services are also free to all KSU faculty and staff.

– Dyson Turner