Staff Editorial: On homesickness and finding a sense of campus community
With Parent & Family Weekend and Thanksgiving Break fast approaching, many have home on their minds. For some, this may come in the form of excitement as they know they will be with their loved ones soon, and yet for others, these events may make them more acutely aware of just how homesick they are.
If your parents are visiting this weekend, consider inviting some of your friends whose parents will not be around to share in some of your activities. Parents tend to love getting to know who you spend your time with while you are away from them. Parents, even ones that are not your own, can give a sense of home that is hard to come by on a college campus. To have this family setting year-round, consider trying Home Plate to eat homemade meals with local families.
For many, going to college is the first time they have lived away from home. Being somewhere new and surrounded by strangers can be understandably stressful and cause a longing to go back. If the pain of this feels overwhelming, consider calling Uncle Joe’s or seeking out other mental health resources on campus. There is no shame in missing your family, your old friends and of course your pets. Don’t feel like there is anything wrong with you for feeling this way; you are not the only one. Don’t be afraid to vocalize your feelings with your friends, as you may be surprised by how many people can relate. You may feel better, also, just knowing that others feel similarly. However, not everyone does get homesick, and that is perfectly fine too. Family is not always a safe and welcoming environment and college may, in fact, be a refuge. Looking down on people who express not wanting to communicate with their parents or not wanting to go home is misguided. Realize that the home life that others have may not be as positive as yours is.
With the holidays just around the corner, it is natural to count down the days leading up to them, yet it is important to not treat the time between then and now as burdening days that only exist to be crossed off your calendar. It is important to remember that not everyone gets to go home for breaks and that the less populated campus may make the longing for home more acute for those that stay. For international students, the holidays that are most important to them may not fall during any break at all, keeping them from their families. Be aware of the differing circumstances of those around you, reach out to those that are not able to see their families when they most need to, be willing to listen and to learn about others’ backgrounds.
We as an editorial board have come up with a few tips in order to alleviate homesickness. Most obviously, call the people that you are missing. Even if they are busy and cannot talk at the time, simply reaching out and letting them know that they are missed can mean the world and help bring you together. If there is a certain dish a family member makes that means a lot, ask them for the recipe or even see if they are willing to video chat with you and talk you through the process as a way to spend time together no matter the distance. If there are any activities you always did with your family or friends from home, invite people here to do them with you. Consider having a “Friendsgiving” to help solidify the family you can form on campus. The pain of missing home cannot go away if you don’t allow yourself the chance to embrace where you are. Get out and explore St. Louis: Go to the Art Museum, explore downtown, eat at the Hill, walk around Cherokee Street. There is so much to do around the city, you just have to be willing to look for it.