Homesick Blues: A real look at those first months as a new college student


Gabby Dionisio, Staff Writer

For college students, the month of August brings both the end of summer and the beginning of the fall semester. For many, this new season is well anticipated. It’s a chance to reconnect with friends after a three-month hiatus and serves as a clean slate for academics, among other things. And as I enter my last year of college, I’m looking forward to seeing familiar faces and eating breakfast at my favorite spots. As I type this sentence, I need to pause.

Once upon a time, three years ago, there stood a college freshman terrified of leaving home. I didn’t have any familiar faces to go back to or any delicious food spots that I visited each week. I had fear, and tons of it. And if you’re a first-year student, I imagine you’re currently walking in those footprints that I, and many who came before me, have previously walked.

Freshman year is advertised as an unforgettable experience. A year of growth! No parental supervision! A chance to forget everyone you went to high school with! Heck, Target and Bed Bath & Beyond make it seem like the only thing that matters is having Insta-worthy dorm décor. But what’s not advertised is how hard that first year is going to be. The Common App (yikes, seniors, remember that guy?) may have asked you why you wanted to attend UNCW or what value you brought to the campus, but in no way does it prepare you for what happens once you step foot on campus.

Now, I can’t speak for everyone. My boyfriend adjusted to campus in, like, five seconds and my freshman roommate couldn’t wait to be on her own. I on the other hand, cried from the moment my parents left me in Belk until Christmas break.

Okay, I’m joking. But I did cry. A lot.


Look at that face! My eyes are bright red and my cheeks are puffy from the amount of crying I’ve already done.

And guess what? That’s okay! I’m okay! Everyone’s experience is going to be different. Some of you reading this may think I’m a crazy person and others may be crying because they miss their mom so much it hurts. Neither way is right, but if I had to guess, I would say that you’re closer to reaching for the tissue box than you are from rolling your eyes.

In one study conducted by UCLA, 66 percent of first-year students reported that they felt lonely or homesick. Let that number sink in. More than half expressed these feelings.

Think about it: after 18-plus years, the comfort of home is taken away. Literally, in one day, one drive, one flight, it all changes. Your bedroom is replaced with a shoebox. Mom’s delicious homecooked meals are substituted with some concoction at Wag. And all of those familiar faces that your high school afforded you are now filled with profiles of strangers.

In the beginning, no one is there to guide you or hold your hand through this incredibly transformative process you’re undergoing. And as someone who survived homesickness and lived to tell about it, I promise you’ll be thankful that you put yourself in a situation to be uncomfortable. Though the saying is old and cliché, change doesn’t happen when you’re comfortable.

One of the first things I did freshman year was sign up for recruitment. Yes, I chose to stay on campus during Labor Day weekend rather than hiding away at home for three days. And when I say I chose to stay, I mean my mom told me I wasn’t allowed to come home (even though I begged) because she knew this would be the turning point in the tear-filled saga that had become my life. So, I listened. Partially because I had no car, and no one would take me home, but mainly because I knew my mom was right.

And for all of you ladies afraid to go through recruitment because you’re intimidated, here’s a story for you. I was in line with my Gamma Chi group getting ready to go into a sorority’s room when an image of my parents from my high school graduation popped into my head. They were standing together smiling at me on stage. I can still see this picture, and I can tell you that it’s very simple. Nothing crazy or tear-inducing, but alas, here we are.

Within seconds, I’m bawling my eyes out, unable to get it together. Before I know it, the doors are opening, and the chanting gets louder, and a girl with beautiful teeth is looping her arm through mine. And yes, I’m still crying.

I am forever grateful (and pridefully indebted) to that poor recruiter from Alpha Gamma Delta who got stuck with me as her Potential New Member. But here’s the other crazy thing: I sucked up my pride and stuck through the rest of recruitment. A few days later, I became a new member of Chi Omega. Three months later, I became the Model Initiate. Two years later, I was slated as president. This month, I’ll apply to become a National Consultant after graduation.

I found my place in an organization that made me feel bigger and the campus smaller. In a season of discomfort and self-doubt, I chose to power through because I knew a different, stronger person existed on the other side. Right this moment, you feel misplaced. You’re struggling to wrap your mind around the fact that everyone has it all together except for you. But guess what? None of us know what we’re doing, but over time we begin to make strides towards figuring it out.

So, sit in your discomfort and remember that it’s temporary. Before you know it, you’ll be the senior talking to a freshman and telling him or her all about the incredible friends you’ve made and the things you’ve accomplished. But in order to get there, you need to be strong, power through and find peace in the journey that lies ahead.