The longing for the familiar has plagued writers and poets since the beginning of time. Most of us associate very strongly with the place of our birth or the place we have learned to call home. It can hurt very much to not be able to go there physically in order to feel secure.
When you left home to attend school, you may or may not have experienced homesickness to some degree. Some students get very caught up in the excitement of new friends and activities and seem to forget about their former life entirely. Other students are very excited in the beginning only to find, after several weeks, that they are starting to miss what was familiar and wish for a visit with friends and family. Still others dread the unfamiliar surrounding from the beginning and are sad and somewhat miserable for a period of time ranging from a few days to an entire semester. The problem can be doubled for an international student or non-traditional student who lacks some of the built in support factors that a traditional age American student has access to: residence hall friends who speak the same language and have similar interests.
Homesickness can strike any of us when we have moved to new surroundings and are being called upon to meet our needs in a different way and with different people. Each of us has a different tolerance for change and learned different methods for coping with unfamiliar surroundings. Homesickness can be a general term that represents grieving, feeling sad, feeling loss of meaning, fearing change, anticipating disappointment, or being lonely. Sometimes it can become a more serious depression if the person cannot begin to meet his/her needs for love and belonging with new people. In those incidences, a new student, one experiencing homesickness, may want to seek out professional help to talk through the concerns.
There is no easy cure for homesickness but it certainly feels better to talk with someone else when you're experiencing great sadness. Often times, new people can show us the way to create new meanings for ourselves and can encourage us to stick with the problem and mover through our feelings to new understandings. Often, homesickness is another way of saying we are scared to face the future, or that we are doubting our ability to cope. Talking with new friends, getting involved in some new activities or speaking with an interested counselor or teacher can go a long way towards alleviating the worst feelings.
If you are in doubt about where to turn for assistance, please feel free to call the Counseling Center at 661-654-3366.
This information was prepared by the Center for Professional Development at the University of Missouri to assist students with problems relating to homesickness.