Homesickness plagues some students

Sara Bennett


Credit: DKS Editors

Many students experience homesickness their first year at college. But for some, the homesickness becomes so overwhelming it seems the only cure is actually going home.

Dan Himes, sophomore biology major at the Tuscarawas campus, has tried to go away to college several times with no success. His homesickness has turned into something more: anxiety.

“If I keep myself busy, I don’t think about going home, but I’m not a busy person,” Himes said. “As soon as I got to the point (in the day) where I was by myself, I’d start crying.”

He said he has tried to go to the Kent campus once and Ohio State University twice – all three times he decided to move back home.

“In my head, I rationalized whole lists of reasoning why I should go home,” Himes said. “(But) as soon as I would sign the paper saying I wasn’t going to be there, I felt a huge volume of regret.”

He said he felt as though he was missing out on life because of his anxiety.

“I love doing more than I love reading about what’s been done,” Himes said. “All my friends would come home and talk about how much fun college was, and I would think, ‘I’m screwing myself out of a whole lot of fun.'”

Pat Tabbara, a clinical counselor at Townhall II, said this type of anxiety is perfectly normal for freshmen college students, so long as they don’t allow it to control them.

“College age is a really, really hard age,” Tabbara said. “It’s a launching age.”

She said the suddenly high expectations might become overwhelming.

“You’re changing literally overnight from a child to an adult,” Tabarra said. “It’s really pretty normal.”

More than 18 percent of people ages 18 and older have an anxiety disorder, according to a 2005 study by the National Institute of Mental Health.

While homesickness and anxiety may be normal, Himes said he feels it is a big problem for him.

Recently, Himes thought he could stay at Ohio State University without needing to leave. He found roommates and signed a lease for an apartment.

He soon decided to stay home, losing his initial investment on the apartment.

“I have such an urge to see the world, but it’s like I’m stuck here,” he said.

Himes said he doesn’t think all of his anxiety is attributed to the big change of college. He thinks some of the anxiety may be learned.

“A lot of it’s nature,” he said. “A lot of it’s nurture. I think I got it from both.”

He said some of his anxiety comes from his family member’s anxious behaviors, but it bothered him when his mom tried to blame herself.

“Everyone likes to blame themselves when something goes wrong, but no one person can take the blame for being the way you are,” Himes said.

While he feels anxiety still controls his life, he said he is improving in strides.

“My counselor told me to do it in steps,” Himes said. “Once you know that you have a problem, it is so much easier to work around it.”

Tabbara agreed.

“Don’t be freaked out because it is pretty normal and can be worked through,” she said.

One step Himes recently took was a two-week trip to Montana.

“The trip was spectacular and new because I was the adult on the trip,” he said. “It was an interesting experience because I have never been that far away from home before.”

Himes said the best thing for homesick students to do is talk to someone.

“You’re not alone,” he said. “There are people there to help you. You don’t want to make any rash decisions.”

He said to think of the anxiety in a different, non-debilitating way.

“You’re really not an adult yet,” Himes said. “You’re an adult with training wheels.”

Contact minority affairs, health, nursing and religion reporter Sara Bennett at [email protected].


On-campus help:

• The Psychological Clinic

176 Kent Hall

(330) 672-2372

• Psychological Services

Second Floor, DeWeese Health Center

(330) 672-2487

Off-campus help:

• Townhall II

155 N. Water St.

Kent, Ohio 44240

(330) 678-3006