Escape to Where?
by Taylor Derrisaw | published Sep. 24th, 2014
Homesickness is common among students starting a new year in college and can affect them in numerous ways. It can make a person feel anxious, depressed, unmotivated and lonely. These feelings often have negative impacts on academic work and a student’s social life.
According to a presentaion by Joe Serwach et al at academia.edu, “… up to 95 percent of fi rst year students report some feeling of homesickness when placed in a new environment.” Serwach’s study then goes on to say that “20 percent report moderate or severe levels of homesickness” and that “7 percent have depressive and anxious symptoms.”
Anthony Morano, a second year Illustration major at RIT, was one of the 95 percent. “I wouldn’t say there was a time when I was absolutely miserable, but there were a few times where I really missed home” he said. “I just associated similar things I found here with things at home.”
In college, there exists an interesting paradox: some associate college with being an escape from home, whereas others may see home as an escape from the stress and work of college. Morano said he believes both home and college can serve as a sort of escape.
“College is an escape from being bored at home and it helped me become a better person,” he said. “Whenever work gets a little crazy, that’s when home becomes a sort of escape. But if I’m handling things correctly I really didn’t worry about it.”
Joseph Kren, a second year Mechanical Engineering major at RIT, had a different view. Kren was able to go home to Buffalo over the weekends and was less homesick than some of his peers.
“When I went home it varied from necessity,” he said. “Usually when I went home I sort of suspended my school work. Not to say that I wouldn’t do work but when I was home I would definitely try to relax.”
Going home gave Kren a reprieve from schoolwork while also allowing him to see his family and friends. This helped alleviate much of the homesickness that can be brought on by long periods spent away from home.
“I know my mom was kind of taking it hard, so I really wanted to keep up with my home,” Kren said. “I’m generally not one to get homesick at all, really. I really liked having that ability to go home because I wasn’t on the opposite side of the country. It really helped break up the monotony … Sometimes, home definitely served as an escape from college.”
Homesickness can come and go throughout the year. Depending on the person, the symptoms can strike around finals week or even randomly when something serves as a reminder of home.
“There was a time in late November where I wasn’t able to go home for a solid month,” Kren said. “I just wasn’t going to be able to make it home … It felt trapping at times.”
In order to combat the feeling of homesickness, Morano called his family a couple times each week. “… maybe just talking to my parents over the phone or just hanging out with my friends seemed to help a lot,” he said.
Homesickness can be tough to deal with regardless of the distance between school and home. The RIT Counseling Center is available for students who have diffi culty coping with severe homesickness. Make an appointment by calling (585)475-2261 or by visiting the second floor of the August Center.