Quintessential Kenyon: Student Life, Uncut

Fighting the Homesick Blues

Claire Berman
September 8, 2015

When people ask me if there’s anything I’d change about Kenyon, I say that I would move it four hours closer to home. 

Now, I don’t have it so bad, living about a seven-hour drive away from my home in Illinois. I definitely have it better than kids from California or New Zealand. But my first bout of homesickness happened about five minutes after my parents said goodbye at the beginning of Orientation. I looked around my Gund double, stared at my bed and desk, and in a tone reminiscent of Gob Bluth, said, “I’ve made a huge mistake.” I promptly called my parents and told them to turn around and take me back home. They said no, and while I’m glad they did, at that moment it felt like my world was ending.

Homesickness hit me hard and fast, and it followed me like a dark cloud a la Eeyore during my first weeks at Kenyon. But it’s natural. For a lot of people, going to college is the first time that they spend a significant amount of time away from home. Minus a few bouts of band camp, it was for me. But eventually things got easier for me, and I thought I’d share a few tips I have that can make the homesick blues fade just a bit.

1. Go out. I don’t mean join a club, or make a hundred commitments (though doing those things do help). I mean, just go out. Talk a walk, or invite a friend to go see a movie. Sitting alone in a dark room thinking about home gets to be a lot. Let yourself have some low-pressure fun.

2. Make memories that you can share with the people you care about. When you’re missing home, you may have the tendency to overshare a bit with the people you care about — I know my parents got a little bored with my daily “State of the Unions” my first two weeks of school. But only talking about how you’re hurting can make the people around you worry.* So if you try to focus a little bit on the positive, just one step a time, and start sharing the happy experiences you’re having, rather than focusing on the negative, it may help shape your own outlook a little.

3. Try to feel comfortable where you are. For me, that was nesting. My room is tricked out with tchotchkes and decorations — things that help me feel like I’m in a space that I created for myself, and which feels like home. I can walk through my door after a rough day, turn on my twinkle lights, look around, and breathe a sigh of relief knowing that I’m in a place I belong.

4. Remember that home comes from people. It’s natural that you miss where you were — the easy accessibility of Noodles & Company and 5 o’clock traffic — but when you think about it, what you really miss are the people you were with. Coming to Kenyon means that you’re separating yourself from a net of people you love, but that’s okay. Facebook exists and makes communication as easy as ever, and as long as you reach out, people will reach back. But you’ll also meet incredible people at Kenyon, people who you wouldn’t have ever imagined being your friend before. And eventually, you’ll gather peers and professors and staff members into a group that will make you feel, once again, like you’re home.

Welcome home, Kenyon. I’m glad you’re here, and I’m here, too.

*If you are having serious troubles, please contact the Counseling Center or the Peer Counselors. Both are an amazing resource and happy to help you through whatever you’re going through!