A guide to battling homesickness in college


Dani Carr, former co-editor-in-chief

“I can’t wait to go to college.”

This was a phrase I liked to throw in my family’s face a lot my senior year. But, by the time it was May 1, I wished I could shove those words back in my mouth. Once I reached the summer after graduation, I didn’t want to go to college at all.

Despite my objections, the day my family trekked seven hours south in our packed Ford Explorer finally arrived. I spent the ride squished between my younger sisters in the backseat, thanks to the minifridge and the plastic Walmart dressers that I would soon be commiserating with in my new dorm.

In the days of sleepovers and YMCA sleepaway camps, I was never the homesick type. In fact, I almost looked down upon other kids who were, wondering how they could possibly be so dependent on their families that they could not last a week or two without them.

But, in some form of cruel, caustic karma, I never sympathized more with 10-year-old summer camp attendees than I did in my first semester in college. 

I missed my family, my friends, my beloved cats, my two dogs, my bed, Gilson Beach, Glenbrook South’s hallways, the Starbucks on Willow and Pfingsten, my sports teams, and The Oracle office. 

But, I did like my college English class. And I appreciated walking around campus, which was more beautiful than I remembered. I enjoyed running on the hiking trail and nighttime golf cart rides, and I found a handful of truly wonderful people. Even though I ached for the familiarity of home, I clung onto these few, beautiful things and wrapped them around me like a life vest at sea.

You might wonder why I am telling you all of these things, because I can’t imagine that this is the most comforting column in the world. I started to wonder that too when I trudged into the territory of writing about mini fridges and YMCA campers.

Well, what I can tell you is that my second semester did get better. The homesickness faded, I made invaluable memories, and my 10-by-15 foot dorm room began to feel like home. Overall, my freshman year was an overwhelmingly good, unexpected experience. 

What I’ve realized—and in hindsight, what I always knew—is that the college experience, and growing up, is a gift. So I have some advice for you, and I will give it to you the only way a former Oracler would: with figurative language.

Find that life vest. Grab it like you’re breaststroking through the Atlantic. If you hold on tight enough, you will find the shore. 

And if you don’t know how to swim, that’s okay, it’s only a metaphor.