BY MICHALA SAWYER '17
It’s natural to feel homesick when you’re away from the place and the people who have always made you feel safe. Making and adjusting to a new routine, struggling to find time to relax and de-stress, having to always make the effort to seem on top of your workload while feeling like you’re drowning in midterm papers, class readings and lab reports — all of this can contribute to a deep yearning to go back home. Some students are lucky in that they live close enough to campus to have the ability to go home for a weekend when they need it. Many students don’t have that option. The feeling of homesickness can manifest in many ways. Sometimes it can be as simple as infrequent thoughts about your home family or pets. Other times it can be so severe that you cannot hold back the tears that threaten to roll down your cheeks. Regardless of the severity, homesickness is essentially a desire for the familiar. Here are some tips for helping to combat that feeling of homesickness.
1. Get to know the campus
One way to battle the unfamiliar is to go exploring. Find places on campus where you could see yourself curling up with a hot drink and a form of entertainment. Getting to know your environment will help increase your comfort on campus. Seek out the various study nooks in the Williston-Smith or Pratt libraries. Take some time to explore the Talcott Greenhouse. Admire the art museum exhibits or take a walk around Upper Lake. Mount Holyoke has one of the most beautiful campuses in the country, and you’re bound to find something that makes you feel comfortable and safe.
2. Retain a (healthy) connection with people back home
Often maintaining relationships that made you feel secure and included back home will help your transition. However, try not to call, Skype or FaceTime home too often. Doing so can hinder your ability to adjust to being away from home and can often become a crutch. Keep your family and friends informed about the various goings on in your life but make sure you try to limit updates to a few times a week.
3. Take advantage of Counseling Services
Counseling Services in the Pattie J. Groves Health Center offers both emergency drop-in hours and sessions by appointment. The counselors at the Health Center are there to help students feel safe and comfortable, and they understand that college can be a stressful place. The Health Center also offers more informal “drop-in talkin’” sessions in Blanchard on Wednesday evenings and Friday afternoons.
4. Talk to your peers; they often feel similarly
One of the best ways to make friends is to share experiences. There are many people who are in the same boat as you. Cultural orgs and clubs, hall events in your dorm and the cultural houses on campus also provide safe spaces where you can meet other students.
5. Get involved!
Joining student orgs is a great way to meet people with similar interests. There are so many different orgs on campus that encompass a broad range of interests, such as video games, politics, science fiction and fantasy, anime, medicine, hiking, music, the environment, creative writing and so much more. You are bound to find something that has the potential to make you happy and help you form lasting connections with your peers.
6. Stay positive!
It will get better. Try to plan things during your day that will make you smile. Don’t spend all of your time holed up in a study room in the library. Scheduling in breaks to relax and de-stress helps to prevent you from feeling overwhelmed. Making the effort to get meals with friends or going over to do work in Thirsty Mind with a couple companions will help you feel connected. Keeping a positive attitude while socializing will make the experience enjoyable for others as well as yourself. It is tempting to want to hide in your room, as that can be the only place where you feel safe, but making the effort to stay positive and leaving your dorm will help make Mount Holyoke feel like your MoHome.