A College Guide to Overcoming
Presented by Kristy Stokes, LPC
Louisiana Tech University Am I at risk?: Am I at risk? Students who’ve never spent time away from home or who’ve had negative experiences while away from home
Students who have negative first impressions and low expectations for the new environment or who have dreaded going off to college
Students who don’t like to try new things, especially with new people
Students who’ve been forced to go to college
Students who have caregivers who express anxiety or ambivalence about the separation
Students who believe that the family situation is going to change for the worse while he or she is at school Contributing Factors: Contributing Factors
•The distance between home and school.
•Not feeling prepared academically to meet the challenges of college.
•The decision to attend college or come to a particular school was made by someone other than the student.
•A sense of anticlimax at finally arriving at college after working towards it for so long.
•Contrast in lifestyle such as differing cultural values or traditions, sexual orientation or geographic differences (i.e. moving from a big city to a small city).
•Financial issues that require the student to work immediately.
You’re Not Alone!: You’re Not Alone! Almost every student misses something about home, at least briefly, for at least one day but oftentimes for several weeks. For about 20 percent of college freshmen, homesickness significantly interferes with both academic and social aspects of life.
Homesickness Myths: Homesickness Myths Homesickness is just for kids .
It is normal for all people to experience some degree of distress when they are away from home.
Myth: Truth: Severe homesickness vanishes by itself. Severe homesickness gets better with positive coping efforts.
Homesickness always feels like sadness. Homesickness may feel like sadness. Or it may feel like nervousness, anger, irritability, or disorientation.
Slide6: Homesickness Myths Talking about homesickness causes homesickness.
Talking about homesickness provides a way to educate and encourage a homesick person.
Myth: Truth: Students get homesick only for their parents. Some students miss home cooking, the family pet, friends, or their former lifestyle.
Could I be homesick?: Could I be homesick?
Feelings of anxiety about separation from loved ones.
Anxiety about one’s performance.
Feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Feeling different from others we think are having a good time.
Feeling depressed/sad with low motivation to study or make friends.
Yearning for a connection to someone who will “take the pain away and make things seem alright.”
Constant thinking about home.
Depression vs. Homesickness: Depression vs. Homesickness
Students who are depressed do not experience relief from their symptoms -even if they go home for the weekend or engage in their favorite activity.
Students who are homesick find that when they leave school and spend time at home, their depressive symptoms disappear.
Some students will experience mild symptoms of depression and anxiety several weeks before leaving home.
Other students feel fine at first, but as the excitement wanes several weeks into the semester or at semester breaks (sometimes even the beginning of their second year), they start experiencing homesickness.
Different Types of Homesickness:
Students who experience the first type of homesickness, enjoy their new school, but they miss the people, places, and things of home.
Students who experience the second type are so overwhelmed by their new environment that they want to go home, even though they don’t necessarily miss the people, places, and things at home. If you are engaging in negative thoughts about yourself, your new environment, and your life in general, your symptoms of homesickness will likely intensify ratherthan subside. So….instead of saying: “ I don’t fit in here. I want to transfer.”You might want to try saying: “I am learning how to adjust here. More practice will make this easier. It’s already easier to do some things here than when I first arrived. This feeling is normal and I want to give myself more time before I make any big decision to leave.”: If you are engaging in negative thoughts about yourself, your new environment, and your life in general, your symptoms of homesickness will likely intensify rather than subside. So….instead of saying: “ I don’t fit in here. I want to transfer.” You might want to try saying: “I am learning how to adjust here. More practice will make this easier. It’s already easier to do some things here than when I first arrived. This feeling is normal and I want to give myself more time before I make any big decision to leave.” Working with Your Thoughts Slide12:
Instead of saying: “I hate making changes. I’m too nervous to relax here.”
Try saying: " I can calm down and take this one step at a time. I’ve been upset and anxious before in my life and I’ve managed to get by and even have more self-confidence for hanging in there.”
If you work at shifting your thoughts from negative to positive and accepting, more than likely your uncomfortable feelings of homesickness will decrease.
Remember: This takes a lot of practice! Be gentle with yourself when you notice you’re in the midst of saying something negative.
Ideas for Dealing with Homesickness:: Ideas for Dealing with Homesickness: Allow yourself to feel homesick
Familiarize yourself with your new surroundings
Do something you enjoy
Get involved and make friends
Communicate with your family
Plan a date to go home
Examine your expectations
Talk to an R.A. or counselor
While homesickness can be painful, it also presents us with an opportunity to grow beyond what we are.
It represents a challenge to take charge of our life and learn new skills for dealing with our emotions and others.
When we work to master homesickness, we can increase our range of comfortable experiences which usually leads to increased self esteem and a sense of independence.