Making Kent your home away from home

Doug Gulasy

OK, time for a true confession: I’m not much of a crier.

Sure, I’ll cry at funerals. It’s hard to avoid that, no matter how stoic you want to appear. But I’m not one to weep during a sad movie. As much as I don’t like seeing Old Yeller or Bambi’s mom die, I’m not one to cry about it.

You might wonder why I’m telling you this if in fact you’re still reading. I promise I’ll get to it.

First, though, let me flash back to two years ago. It was Week of Welcome at Kent State, and I was an incoming freshman from the Pittsburgh area.

I remember how excited I felt. This was my first extended period away from home, as I’m sure is the case with many of you. I was eager to begin my transition to the real world.

So as I walked toward my parents’ car to see them off, I thought I was ready to begin life by myself. I didn’t think saying goodbye would be that hard.

I was wrong.

Even though I don’t cry much, I definitely cried that day. And I’m not talking about a couple manly tears to show my parents I would miss them. No, I straight up bawled my eyes out, shaking shoulders and all. Suddenly I did not want my parents to leave. But leave they did, leaving a suddenly homesick 18-year-old in their wake.

My homesickness didn’t stop there. In fact, it festered for basically my entire first semester as I wallowed in self-pity. It never occurred to me to do something about it.

Instead of going out and socializing like other freshmen, I stayed holed up in my dorm room with the door closed. I overindulged on my meal plan and the Freshman 15 became more like the Freshman 30 or 40. By the time winter break hit, I was ready to quit. Give up. Admit failure and go home.

Flash forward to now as I prepare to enter my junior year. I’m about 50 pounds lighter than I was at the end of my first semester and I have plenty of good friends to count as my own. Simply put, I feel great.

So what happened?

What happened was that I finally realized my homesickness wasn’t going to improve by osmosis. I had to do something about it myself.

Beginning my second semester, I finally began to venture outside my dorm room. I went to the rec center. I went to the M.A.C. Center for basketball games. I joined student organizations such as the Daily Kent Stater and made friends I still have today.

I realize that not all of you freshmen will deal with homesickness. Some of you will be just fine making the transition to college, and that’s great.

But some of you may experience what I did, and that’s all right. Homesickness is a perfectly normal thing for any college freshman to feel, especially if this is your first extended period away from home.

What isn’t all right, though, is letting those feelings consume you and cause you to give up on college too soon. I almost made that mistake.

There’s no cure-all for homesickness. Different things work for different people. For me, what it took was meeting people and making friends. For others, what works is talking to a counselor about what they’re feeling.

But I guarantee you that doing nothing will do the same for your homesickness: nothing. It won’t get better on its own.

If you’re feeling homesick, you’re not alone, even if it may seem that way. Don’t let loneliness drive you to drop out of college. You’ll regret it.

Instead, keep pushing on. I didn’t give up, and neither should you. College is supposed to be the best years of your life. Give it a chance to be.

Contact managing editor Doug Gulasy at [email protected].