Years before I even started the college application process, I would imagine scenarios of my college experience as being one of bleak skies and dark times for one reason alone: homesickness.
When my older friends would invite me to ask them questions about their time enrolled in university, the first question that would roll off my tongue was, “How did you deal with homesickness?”
I’ll admit: As a little girl, I was incredibly spoiled. My mom and dad – albeit it was mostly my dad – showered me with a boundless supply of Barbie dolls, Costco churros, and affection, whether it was upon my request or by the goodness of their own hearts. My parents never hesitated to abate my impatience at the store with a new toy or my favorite snacks. In retrospect, it was almost as if I ran the household sometimes, with my parents surrendering their bank accounts at the expense of my joy.
Now, as a student in my second quarter of college, I feel so guilty. There are days at Cal Poly when I can barely afford to buy a grande iced coffee from Starbucks, and the mere thought of asking my parents to send me more money to be able to afford something as trivial as a $3 beverage makes me sick to my stomach. Daily text messages and weekly phone calls used to feel like a chore during my first quarter, but now, they aren’t sufficient. They send me photos of my 14-year-old dog Peeka almost every day, and it only makes me grow more anxious for the next time I get to hug my dog.
Learning how to be independent in college has been a huge adjustment for me, and I want to reassure you that if you feel the same way, it’s OK! Whether your parents personified a helicopter (roaming around your every move throughout your upbringing) or a spectator (hanging out on the sidelines and granting you every freedom in the book), being away from home takes time and acclimation. Some students adapt quicker than others, some adapt slower than others, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll bask in your newfound independence for the first few months and then those pitted-stomach, reminiscent “symptoms” of homesickness will kick in after the zing of college has dwindled.
Everyone adjusts at their own pace, and that is OK.
Of course, I’m not too far away from home, which makes coping with homesickness much easier than if I were to attend college across the country like a handful of my friends. Despite this, homesickness is still an indubitable and valid emotion I’ve experienced as a college student.
If you’ve felt or currently feel homesick in college, know that many of your peers are familiar with – and are probably enduring – the same feelings. Consider giving your parents a call sometime soon, or if your budget permits, pay a visit to your family within the next few weeks. Keeping in touch with your family electronically and talking it out with trustworthy friends in college will help you overcome all degrees of homesickness.
Though it’s important to remember that college is a time of adjustment, it is also a time to be “selfish.” If your homesickness reaches the extreme end, resist the urge to visit home every single week. Yes, it may make you and your parents happy, but college is the perfect time to learn how to live on your own without the ceaseless guidance of your mom and dad. Use your homesickness to fuel your on-campus pursuits and to find your “home away from home” through extracurricular activities, fun classes, a job, or any other means.