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September 28, 2012

Homesickness common among new college students

College students experience homesickness

PLATTSBURGH —  Last fall, Lauren Lewis left her parents and identical twin sister, Meghan, to begin classes at SUNY Plattsburgh for the first time. 

On move-in day, her parents brought her to the college campus from their home in Whitesboro and helped her set up her dorm room.

"And then everybody left," Lewis said. 

Almost immediately, she was filled with feelings of loneliness and nervousness at the thought of having to make all new friends and navigate the unfamiliar campus.

"I didn't know where to go to eat," she said. "The first week, I called my mom 10 times a day and my sister 10 times a day." 

Lewis's initial feelings of uneasiness are not abnormal, according to Carol Shuttleworth, senior counselor at SUNY Plattsburgh's Center for Student Health and Psychological Services. 

"It's pretty common for students, especially brand new students, to be homesick," she said. 

After all, she noted, it makes sense that one would miss his or her family, friends, pets and routines when venturing into new territory.

EXPECTATIONS

"One of the things we don't do in our culture is talk about what a big transition it (going away to college) is," said SUNY Plattsburgh counselor Kim Fisher. 

A lot of people have built up expectations that college is an amazing experience, she said, and while it can be, it's important for students and families to recognize that college life can also take some getting used to.  

WHAT PARENTS CAN DO

Christy Minck, assistant director of Psychological Services at the college, encourages parents to ask their children not only what is going well in their new environments but also what isn't going so well.  

And when students express that they are feeling homesick, it is important for parents to try to validate those feelings, added Kristina Moquin, also a counselor at SUNY Plattsburgh. 

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