Guide to beating first-year homesickness

STORY AND INFOGRAPHIC BY ISABELLA KRZYKALA

Each year Sheridan College welcomes hundreds of students who begin life away from home for the first time. The transition can be challenging, as students have to adjust to calling school “home.”

As the holiday season approaches, and reading week now a thing of the past, students may feel the pressure of being away from home starting to build up. While there are many benefits to living away from home, the pressure of not having your family as a support system can take a toll on a student both physically and mentally.

“Being homesick made me so sad and lazy which made doing school work harder. I went home after my first two days,” said Fiona Alvarez, a first-year Bachelor of Film and Television student from Toronto. “I got more work done at home instead, just because I was so homesick.”

Suffering from homesickness can take the same toll on your body as a physical injury, which can prevent a student from working to the best of their ability.

“Our brains process both physical pain and emotional pain in the exact same place,” said Jessica Zeyl, registered psychotherapist, marriage and family therapist and owner of Toronto Counselling Centre for Teens. “Emotional difficulty can be just as hard on us as broken limbs or serious sickness. That is a lot for us to overcome in order to be present for student life and demands of study.”

Sheridan has many opportunities for students who are homesick. Joining a club or getting an on-campus job has been proven to help with the feeling of homesickness that students face.

“I definitely struggled with feeling alone and struggled with anxiety throughout my first year,” said Samantha Tu, Sheridan Student Union’s, clubs coordinator. “It was not until second semester that I began to change that. I was able to join a student club and land an on-campus job that really impacted my life for the better.”

Finding a balance between school work and social activity helps to alleviate homesickness. Making new friends and having people to talk to can make the transition of living away from home an easy adjustment.

“I found such enjoyment from the extracurricular work I was doing and I met some new friends through my on-campus job,” said Tu. “Being able to make a difference on campus through my work and creating a solid support system of friends really helped the constant homesickness feelings disappear.”

Having someone to talk to is also important for a student. Communication allows a student to explain exactly what they are going through.

“It helps when you work through the feelings you are experiencing,” says Zeyl. “The connection you form with the person you are talking to is part of building a support network at school.”

It is important that students acknowledge the services available to them on campus. If you, or someone you know, are feeling overwhelmed and feeling homesick you are encouraged to book an appointment with one of the counsellors at Sheridan College.

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