Feeling homesick? Here are some suggestions

TROY, Ala. (TROJANVISION) — Trojan Outreach is working to help students who may be experiencing homesickness.

For some students, home is far away from campus. Whether it’s hundreds of miles or thousands, some students experience homesickness. When that happens, Trojan Outreach is there to lend a helping hand.

Homesickness can be caused by things such as a change of environment, people, or even a new routine. Attending college fits all of those categories, which is why Trojan Outreach is trying to help.

“Go out and explore and create new friendships but also make sure to create those relationships with your professors,” said Trojan Outreach Peer Educator Danielle Wormsby. “They are people that are definitely going to be there to help you when you need them.”

Once a student starts to feel homesick their immediate reaction may be to run home to Mom and Dad. Trojan Outreach says not so fast.

“You should not go home when you’re feeling homesick,” Wormsby told TrojanVision. “You can check in but not too much.”

Trojan Outreach urges students to use college as a time to spread your wings and fly.

“You want to use college as a time to find your individuality,” Wormsby explained.

One student says she adapted to the United States culture rather quickly and is excited to be given the opportunity to learn in the U.S

“Excited because I wanted to understand the culture here and try to improve myself, to step out my comfort zone because this is my first time I leave Taiwan,” said international student Ruoping Zhou.

Another student told TrojanVision Americans seem friendly and willing to welcome people from other places.

“The people in here really nice,” said student Yichieh Lin.

Troy University offers counseling services for students. Click here for more information. In addition, TROY offers the following tips for parents if their child is experiencing homesickness:

Homesickness Tips

Tip #1: Don’t ask them if they are homesick. While it is true that many students miss being at home, most are so busy in the first weeks of school that they do just fine, as long as nothing reminds them about being away from home. Even if they never bring it up, you can rest assured that they do miss you. If your student is really homesick, encourage them to stick it out for one semester.

Tip #2: Write, even if they don’t write back. Your student will be exploring and enjoying their independence and this is necessary for their development. Even so, they want to keep family ties and the security that brings. It’s nice for them to have things in the mailbox and depressing when it is empty. Still, they may not respond for some time. Don’t interpret their silence as rejection.

Tip #3: Ask questions (but not too many). First-year students tend to resent interference with their newfound lifestyle, but most want to know that someone is still interested in them. Parental curiosity can be experienced as supportive or alienating depending on the attitudes of the person involved. Honest inquiries that further the parent bond are welcomed. “Pulling rank”, “I have a right to know” questions, and hidden agendas should be avoided.

Tip #4: Expect change (but not too much). It is natural and inevitable that your student will change over the course of their time here. For some, this change is gradual. For others it is quick and dramatic. This can be quite stressful for all involved. It helps to remember that young adults should be forming their own identities, and that it is counterproductive to try and stop them from doing so. While you may never understand the changes in their social, vocational, and personal choices that may occur in college, it is within your power to accept them. Maturation can be a slow and painful learning process. Please be patient.

Tip #5: Don’t worry excessively about moody behavior. You might find parenting during the college years to be pretty thankless. Your student may sometimes feel overwhelmed with all that is happening, and they might turn to you in distress. But, you may rarely hear from them when things are going well. You are serving as a “touchstone” for your student, someone they can turn to when they feel the need. Regardless of what they might say, this is very valuable to them. If your student’s “bad mood” seems persistent and you have concerns about it, call the staff at the Counseling Center to discuss it further.

Tip #6: Visit (but not too often). Whether they admit it or not, students usually appreciate a visit from their parents. This gives them a chance to connect to both of their “worlds” at once. “Surprise” visits are usually not appreciated because they can feel disrespectful. It is better to wait for planned visits, such as the Family Weekend opportunity.

Tip #7: Avoid the “These are the best years of your life” speech. The college years are full of discovery, inspiration, good times and friends. But they are also marked by indecision, insecurity, disappointment, and mistakes. In all probability your student will learn that college is much more challenging, in every way, than they imagined. Parents who think that college students “have it made” and that they should always perform well and be worry-free are mistaken. Those that accept the highs and lows are providing the kind of support students need most.

Tip #8: Communicate your expectations and stay informed. It is entirely appropriate for you to expect reasonable outcomes for your investment. Attendance, decent grades, safe and healthy choices, and signs of increasing responsibility should be evident to you. Negotiate and discuss these with your student, then look for that evidence. If you don’t find it, increase your level of supervision.

Tip #9: Trust them. Finding oneself is a difficult enough process without feeling like the people whose opinions you respect most are second-guessing your own second-guessing. One mother wrote her son during his senior year: “I love you and want for you all the things that make you happiest; and I guess you, not I, are the one who knows best what those things are.”

If you’re smart you’ll believe it, mean it, and say it now.