Alone away from home

Everyone feels homesick every now and then

College is a time for finding yourself, meeting new people, making memories and, of course, getting an education. But sometimes, between finding yourself and making all those memories, a strong feeling of homesickness overcomes you.

Suddenly you no longer want to go out with your friends or go to class because all you want is to be in the presence of your home with your family, your old friends and the scent of familiar places.

You feel as though you’re all alone, that you’re the only one experiencing this uncontrollable feeling of homesickness but the truth is you are not alone, many other students feel the same way.

According to a survey by the UCLA Higher Education Institute, 69 percent of first year college students report feeling homesick.

What is homesickness?

After spending the past 18 years forming bonds with people and places so when students who leave home and part with those familiar faces and places we tend to experience this emptiness or sense of loss.

Aaron Krasnow, Ph.D, associate vice president at ASU Counseling Services and Health Services, says homesickness is a normal experience for everyone.

“Often acute feelings of homesickness can occur right before and/or right after returning to home for a visit. This is when the comparison between home and away is most clear,” Krasnow says.

Elena Pelkey-Landes | The State Press

When students go back to school after being home for an extended period of time the transition back may seem more difficult, making home idealized and college can be seen as more negative, Krasnow says.

ASU nutrition junior, Rebecca Bender, says she feels the most homesick right after her mother leaves or after she visits home.

“The leaving part is always the hardest,” Bender says. “ It’s like getting a piece of my childhood back every time I go home to visit my mom.”

According to Warwick Counseling Services' website, homesickness is a reminder of our need to respect and pay attention to our physical and emotional needs at a time of stress.

Bender says she also tends to feel homesick when she realizes all the responsibilities she has and whenever she realizes the time is just zooming by.

When feelings of homesickness are exasperated it can lead to increased feelings of sadness, frustration, loneliness and anxiety, Krasnow says.

“Sometimes homesickness can get so bad that it interferes with academic, work or social performance,” Krasnow says.

Warwick Counseling Services website says the effects of homesickness can be quite disabling.

ASU Counseling Recommendations

Sometimes students feel homesick right away when they get to college and for others it’s more of a delayed reaction, Krasnow says.

When you start to feel homesick, Krasnow recommends to make a list of the parts of home you miss, the parts of home you don’t miss and to do the same thing for college.

“Ask yourself the following questions: What do you like about college? What do you miss when you are home?” Krasnow says.

He says when you create these lists you create a balanced perspective.

“Balanced perspective is one of the most powerful antidotes to negative feelings. It prevents us from coloring the world as ‘all one way,’ which prevents negative feelings from getting out of control,” Krasnow says.

Emily Johnston, an ASU photography junior, says she has felt homesick plenty of times.

Johnson says even though this is her third year at ASU she still experiences being homesick from time to time.

“When I am homesick, it’s usually because I’ve gone days or weeks without talking to my family back home,” Johnston says.

Johnston says when she does feel homesick she reminds herself how thankful she is to be going to school somewhere different than where she was raised.

“Experiencing a new culture helps me live in the moment and remember that I am here for a reason,” Johnston says.

It’s actually quite simple, Johnson says, your time at college is what you make it, if you don’t make memories or meet new people, you may look back at your four years spent at college and feel they were unfulfilled. College is your time to experience not the time to feel homesick.


Reach the reporter at Antonina.North@asu.edu or follow @NinaANorth1 on Twitter.

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