Body, Mind and Spirit: Homesickness

Hello Eastern Students! Welcome back! Let me take a minute to introduce myself and explain what I do at ENMU. My name is Dr. Cami Johnson and I am a wellness counselor. You can find me in the SAS building. I specialize in addictions but handle an array of issues that at some time you could find yourself facing. I conduct individual therapy sessions pertaining to issues such as; homesickness, school and relationship issues, depression, anxiety, or really any mental health issue, substance abuse or anything that stands in your way of having an awesome experience while at ENMU.

I am an Air Force wife and a mommy of two little boys under the age of 2. In many ways, I have been truly blessed. But don’t for a second think that I have not struggled with some of these same issues, many of which I will be talking about in these columns. Throughout the semester I will touch on several topics related to wellness. These will include; test taking skills, stress management, sleep, regaining your lost motivation, how to navigate essay questions, healthy eating and dieting and ways to stay safe.

This week, we are going to focus on homesickness and a few issues related to it so we can all stay on the right foot this semester.

Freshman, perhaps for the first time in your life, you’ve moved away from everything and everyone that has ever been familiar to you. You are starting your life as a young adult, surrounded entirely by strangers and that can be a lot of changes all at one time!

  • Feeling Homesick: Freshman struggle with homesickness whether they are 30 minutes away from home, or across the country. Keep in touch with family and friends from back home. But PLEASE make sure that you don’t isolate yourself from making new friends at ENMU. The longer you are here and the more friends you make, your homesickness will lessen. The first few weeks on campus can be a lonely period. You may have concerns about forming friendships. It may seem that everyone else is self-confident and socially successful. The reality is that everyone is having the same concerns. It’s important to remember to be yourself when meeting new people.

  • Roommates… YIKES! Many freshman have never had to share such a small space with someone before, let alone a stranger! Living with someone can be extremely difficult but if you work through conflicts before they blow up and regularly communicate with your roommate, it can make it so much easier. The great thing is, you don’t have to be BFFs, so long as you can co-exist with each other. Negotiating respect of personal property, personal space, sleep, and relaxation needs can be a complex task. The complexity can increase when roommates are of different ethnic/cultural backgrounds with very different values. Communicating your needs calmly, listening with respect to your roommate’s concerns, and being willing to compromise to meet each other’s most important needs can promote resolution of issues.

  • Perfectionism: Many students struggle with perfectionism as freshmen. Chances are, the study habits that you used in high school, will need to be adapted to fit the needs of the college classes you are taking. Obviously, good grades are important. But, striving to be perfect could definitely hinder your mental health and stress you out.

  • Time Management: Only three hours of class a day? It can be hard to budget all your time to get assignments done, especially with added responsibilities such as jobs. Set aside a certain time each day to spend studying. Studying with other classmates can help you meet people and get better grades. And then enjoy your free time without guilt!

Transfer Students

  • Fighting Isolation: Many transfers feel isolated. Participate in on campus activities or extracurricular clubs.

  • Bonding with Others: Transfers may feel like they have “missed out” on freshman bonding time. It may seem like EVERYONE else has an established group of friends. Give it time – good friendships aren’t made over night.

Commuter Students

  • Building a Social Life: Commuters may find it hard to navigate the social aspect of the university since they are usually absent on the weekends. Make plans to meet up with friends or classmates for social activities on the weekends.

  • Participating in Campus Life: Commuters don’t experience some aspects of campus life, like dorm living. Feel connected by spending time on campus even when you don’t have class – studying at the library, go to the gym, or the CUB instead.

Returning Students: Returning to campus after a summer away is definitely an adjustment. Many students have gotten reacquainted with the comforts of home.

  • Balancing Academic Loads: More upper level classes might mean more studying and less free time. With some time management and focused studying, you will be able to adjust to increasing demands.

  • Deciding on the Next Step: Thinking about the future is a source of major anxiety for many students, whether it is choosing a major or deciding on post-graduation plans. It can be even more anxiety provoking if you feel directionless. This is common! Come see us in SAS 232 for some assistance.

International Students

  • Bring mementos from your home country that will remind you of some of your most favorite things from back home.

  • Make sure you have the email addresses for friends and family back home easily accessible and have everyone download some form of video conferencing so you can video chat with them also.

  • Another important thing is to bring (or have someone send) you smells from home.

  • Also, speaking of care packages, have someone send you non-perishable food from home also. That way you can have a little bit of everything you love with you while you still enjoy your time at ENMU.

I hope you have a safe and successful semester at ENMU. But remember, if at any time you have any questions or concerns, or you would like to set up an appointment to see one of our counselors, please feel free to call the office at 575-562-2211 or stop by our office in the Student Academic Success (SAS) building, room 232.

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