Surviving College 101: I Wanna Go Home!


Karly Liska, Reporter


“Hey Mom, it’s me again.  Yeah, I know I just talked to you two hours ago but I thought I should call you and let you know I’m still alive.  Isn’t that nice of me?  No, I don’t miss you, I just—just—I wanna go home!”

Does this conversation sound familiar?  It probably does because over half of the college students in America catch the dreaded disease known as homesickness.  I caught the illness myself when I moved to Norfolk, Nebraska to attend classes at Northeast Community College and I felt absolutely miserable for the first month or two.  Calling my mom was a common occurrence and I felt better for a while, but then the symptoms would come creeping back to me.  You know what I’m talking about:  loneliness, depression, changed eating habits.  Homesickness is a nasty disease.

Some cases of homesickness are worse than others.  Most students drop out of college because they can’t deal with being away from home.  Something that helps prepare teenagers for college is trips away from home.  Automotive technology student, Kai Liska, stated that vacations and state and national FFA helped him get used to being away from family.  Short trips don’t work entirely, though.  Liska said he knew when he was feeling homesick, “When I wanted to go home.”  He also said that having to work for a couple of weeks straight made homesickness worse.  Going home for at least one day on the weekend made him feel a lot better.

People who have strong ties back home are more prone to homesickness.  When questioned on what he missed most about home Northeast student Nate DeSive stated his family and his racecar.  “My racecar is clear over there and I’m here,” he told me humorously.  DeSive also mentioned that his eating habits changed.  He was eating more take-out and junk food than when he was living with his parents.  I think that can be said for every college student in the world.  Fast food and junk food are so much easier than making dinner.

There are three different eating patterns in homesickness that are common in college students(Belk, Wallendorf, and Sherry 1989).  The first one is quintessential eating which means that people eat the food that they think best represents the food they ate at home.  The second one,
substitution, happens when someone can’t eat the food that reminds them of home so they eat something similar.  Channeling, the third pattern, happens when one eats food that someone they left behind ate.  I don’t know about anyone else but the substitution pattern sounds very familiar to me.

A college student being homesick affects parents too; a fact that most people don’t realize.  “It makes me feel…not really guilty but kind of sorry for you, I guess.  ‘Cause when you feel bad, I feel
bad.”  This statement came from my mother, Karel Liska, when asked how my homesickness made her feel.  She was then asked if she did anything to help the homesickness.  She said that she didn’t want to call because she didn’t want to make me start thinking about it.  Making my apartment homier was also something she did to try to help.  It doesn’t matter how tough you are, going to your parents always helps.  Dr. David Leibow summarized how college students think, “I want to become an adult and become independent of my parents, but I want to continue to have them as a safety net.”


So, it’s the end of my first semester of college and I still get homesick.  The level of homesickness, though, isn’t nearly as high as it once was.  I don’t feel the need to call my mom every night even though I miss my family.  I’m getting used to being by myself and the longer I’m away from home, the better I feel.