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There are many aspects of college that take some getting used to. For students who are from other regions of the country or even the world, and who did not have previous experience away from home (like a boarding school or frequenting summer camp), college can be an especially difficult adjustment. 

Homesickness can be a very real problem for college students all across the world. Here at Williams, many of us have or continue to feel homesick. In fact, NBC News reports that 69% of first-year college students report feeling homesick — that’s a lot! 

In my particular case, I felt very homesick especially after Thanksgiving of my freshman year when I returned on campus after being reunited with my family. I come from a suburb of Minnesota, and before coming to Williams, the longest I had been away from home was 1 week. It is not surprising that I struggled for a bit with being away from home. 

    What does homesickness feel like? Homesickness has everything to do with attachment, so when we feel homesick, we are longing for something in our minds that is known, constant and predictable. For me, apart from obviously missing my family and pets, there were certain activities and things I felt homesick for. I missed my couch, I missed taking baths, I missed driving my car around late at night, I missed the apple crisp my mom cooks every Halloween … The list is endless. 

    Like myself, lots of my friends shared similar struggles with homesickness, especially during their freshman year. Ana Maria Picó ‘22, a Puerto Rico native, described her experience with homesickness as, “it feels like you’re stuck in a state in which you really don’t feel like engaging in many things that are not in some way related to or connected to home.” Picó tells that what she missed most about home was her family (extended and immediate), her dog, her best friends, the FOOD, and the warm weather. Rachel Neugart ‘22, who comes from Minnesota like myself, explained her feelings of homesickness as “a tired, really, really wishing I could physically be with my friends and my family from home.” Both last year and especially this year, she misses the people (her family and the community at large) and the great relationships she has with them, as well as the Minnesota culture, which is “just different” in terms of values, morals, and norms (and I can second that)! 

    Now that we have established that homesickness is very real and pretty common, what do we do? Well, to start, it’s important to realize that homesickness is temporary — yes, it’s a real feeling, but it won’t be stuck with you forever. It is also most common to feel homesick in the morning or at night when we are less busy and our minds aren’t focused on other things. So, if you feel that, do not worry — it’s normal! Ana Maria explained that, when she is feeling homesick, she calls her parents, little cousins or her brothers a bit more often than usual, or spends time with college friends that make her feel at home. On her own, Ana Maria practices routines that she would regularly do at home, like listening to Spanish music, watching movies, or painting her nails. For Rachel, she does the “one second a day” video activity (where you take a 1-second video of your life every day and you can compile them into a nice long video). She has a lot of content from home this summer and she likes to watch it to remind herself how appreciative and lucky she is to have such a special place to call home that she misses.

    Get active. Stay busy. Call your family. Talk about your family with friends from college. Explore your environment. For me, I started wandering around the campus and discovering new places to study and hang out. This was really helpful for me because I felt more familiar with the campus and it made college (miraculously) feel a bit more predictable and normal. And remember, homesickness is completely normal and totally okay. You should not be embarrassed to be homesick because it is likely that almost everyone around you is feeling the same exact way, especially for first years. 

 

Hi guys! My name is Clarissa (or CC for short) and I am class of 2022 at Williams. I am a member of the Women's Ice Hockey team and I am a Psychology major with a Neuroscience concentration & French certificate. Hope my articles make you smile :)
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