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Subterranean Homesick Alien – Dealing with Post-Freshman Homesickness

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at BU chapter.

Moving to college for the first time was one thing. The thrill of the unknown world I was entering often dulled any notion of homesickness I may have felt. I was too excited about the future to miss being at home. Why would I want to go back when I’ve just begun my new life as an almost-adult?  Everything was so new and exciting. But now, flash forward a year, and home is one of the only things on my mind.

I oftentimes feel like since I’m nearing the end of my second year of college, I should be more seriously thinking about what I want to do afterward. Instead, I’m constantly calculating the next possible time I can spare the money for a train ride home for a weekend. I’m always texting my family or my best friend who still live around my hometown in Maine. By now, it’s gotten to the point where receiving messages from them feels like I’m lost at sea and they’re throwing me a life-preserver. Near-daily pictures of my dog are a necessity.

The idea of being an alien stranded on earth, as the ever-elusive Radiohead so eloquently put it back in their old song “Subterranean Homesick Alien,” feels weirdly related to this (at least for me; though I’m biased as I adore pretty much everything the band has ever released). “Take me on board their beautiful ship / Show me the world as I’d love to see it” — take me home, where the world is all comfort, familiarity, and nostalgia.

But why now? I didn’t miss being at home nearly this much as a freshman, though hints of it occasionally presented themselves. Then, not even half a day after moving into my spring semester dorm my sophomore year, I had one of the most intense bouts of homesickness I have ever experienced. It hit me all at once. There were floods of tears and panicked texts to my mom who had literally just left a few hours prior after helping me move in.

Shouldn’t I be fully adjusted to being on my own at school by now? Shouldn’t I be happy here? I’ve been considering this for quite a while, and I think I’ve come to a few conclusions.

Having experienced most of what college culture has to offer at this point, I’m coming to realize that people will inevitably come and go in life. And that’s to be expected. But the few who stick around with you are the ones who matter most. For me, at least, home is where I feel the most cared for and loved. So, obviously, I want to be there pretty much all the time. You don’t realize how much you appreciate spending time with certain people until you’re away from them. 

The security and comfort that home provides can cure any affliction. I’d give anything to feel like a kid without a care in the world, no essays or exams to be spoken of. Being at home almost gives the illusion that I am a kid again, without any of the responsibilities of being a student, or being an adult with even more daunting responsibilities that I’d rather not think about. I’m sure we all ache for that childhood security.

I think this sudden surge of homesickness is simply one of the many growing pains of entering my twenties. We’re not quite kids anymore, but not quite adults yet either. College is a gray area where everything is up in the air and could change in an instant. Sometimes that’s exciting and sometimes it’s terrifying. I’m learning to deal with both.

So, for all the other homesick aliens out there living in an unfamiliar world, your home will always be there waiting for you to go back and visit. And I’m sure your people can’t wait to see you again.


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Ellie is a third-year English major with a minor in Cinema & Media Studies. When she is not busy cramming four years of college into three, one can usually find her binge-watching the latest Netflix obsession or reading novels of all genres. Someday she hopes to get a novel of her own out into the world.
Writers of the Boston University chapter of Her Campus.