Homesick? Get involved

By Retzel Fabillar
Flapjack Chronicle staff

College students and their families express hugs, kisses and farewells on the day they move into their dormitories. For some it is an exciting day, yet for others it is the start of an emotional war that many Humboldt State students must face- homesickness. How can one fight and how can one win?

Homesickness is a very difficult problem that many students experience. Every semester, thousands of students from many areas leave their homes and enter Humboldt State University; a dramatically different environment that only heightens the common “longing for home.” Yet although many students suffer from the sickness, a great majority of them manage to overcome these difficulties and learn to adjust. But how exactly do students overcome this anxiety? What measures must they take to maintain comfort and ease in a new environment, new society and a new home?

For art student, Miles Vallejos, 21, homesickness was a very tormenting experience that made it difficult for him to focus on anything other than home.
“I woke up sad every day,” Vallejos said. “Almost crying, wishing I could go back to sleep and dream of being home again with everyone.”

Vallejos said that this sadness lasted for many weeks, but he continued to find a way out of his depression.
“I prayed and I kept telling myself I had to go outside my comfort zone,” Vallejos said. “I constantly put myself out there in clubs and rushed to events to make this place my new home because I may never get this experience again.”
Vallejos said that his homesickness faded away in time once he got involved. He improved by joining many social activities such as the Asian-Pacific alliance and various Health Science organizations.

Journalism student Bryanna Barnes, 20, observed that among her homesick friends, common unhealthy methods of coping with homesickness involved constant communication with others back home.
“What I see is that they’re hiding behind technology- Facebook, texting, and talking to people from home 24/7,” Barnes said. “They feel like they’ve lost their connection from home and it only makes their homesickness worse because they are unable to make connections in their new home.”

Similar to Vallejos’ experience, Barnes acknowledged that she noticed improvement among her friends when they got involved in school and local activities.
“When they focus on the community here, it definitely helps them,” Barnes said. “Because they are focusing on what they can be involved in, not what they want to be involved in.”

Although social networking and group involvement seem to be the best cure, HSU Clinical Psychologist Shawn Siverstein said that there are significant steps that homesick students must take before merging into a new community.
“First thing is to acknowledge that you’re feeling homesick,” Silverstein said. “There is also some positivity with having a routine and schedule. It’s good to bring tokens and values from home. It allows for a level of familiarity, which generates some continuity and consistency in your life.”

Silverstein said there were many events at the counseling center at HSU that many students can come to in order to deal with their homesickness.

“We have a group therapy session on Wednesdays and a ‘Walk and Talk’ group on Fridays,” Silverstein said. “Find out resources. Understand the community. There are these assets that you can find if you put yourself out there even if your community is fairly small.”

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