Courtney Weaver is all by herself this week to talk a little bit about homesickness and what you can do to combat it when you’re at school. This academic year will look different, but there are plenty of ways that you can still connect to campus! 

Transcription: 

Welcome. Welcome. Welcome everyone to Wellbeing Wednesdays. I'm your host, Courtney Weaver. I'm the director over at WellWVU here at West Virginia University. Ah, today I'm joined by... absolutely no one. It's just me talking to myself in my apartment. And what are we talking about today? Well, The topic this week is homesickness.

Ooh. Uh, so why aren't we talking about it? Well, as you may know, moving has happened over the past couple of weeks here at West Virginia university. And it's really a time of great transition for all of our new students, because usually it's the first time that. They're away from home and living independently.

Now that's not the case for all of our students, but for many, that is the case. And so if you're starting to feel some pangs of homesickness, no, that you're not alone. So studies actually show that between 19%. 70% of university students have actually reported experiencing homesickness. Yes. I know that's quite a big range, but that's also, even if it's just 19%, that's still a lot of students.

Um, so what is homesickness? Well, it's defined as a feeling of longing for one's home during a period of absence from it. And so the primary cause. Is a son transition or a separation from home, just like it would be moving into a residence hall from your childhood home, perhaps. So some folks actually are more prone to it than others.

And some of the contributing factors include anxiety and shyness. Now the Atlantic did an article about adult homesickness and in that case, it's often caused by our brain's desire for routines and attachment systems. So, what that means is that basically it's not about a literal desire for being home or to like pack it all back up and get back home, but more about the sense of security and comfort that's associated with home.

That reminds me of the movie, a garden state, which. Some of you, young folks might not have seen above was really popular when I was in college, back in the early two thousands. Uh, and the main character played by Zach Prayuth. He had a line that said, “a home, isn't a place, it's a feeling.” And I think that really resonates here when we talk about adult homesickness.

So interestingly enough, there are actually some physical and emotional. The symptoms that can manifest if someone is experiencing homesickness, uh, the first one is a disturbed, sleeping pattern. So maybe you're having trouble falling asleep at night, or you're waking up multiple times during the night, or maybe you're sleeping too much.

Um, people feel angry. Nervous or sad. Some people might actually feel sick to their stomach or nauseous. Um, if you're feeling isolated, lonely, or withdrawn, if you're feeling overwhelmed and secure, anxious, or panicky, uh, you might have feelings of low self-esteem or self-worth. You actually might experience more headaches and then you also might experience a lack of appetite or concentration.

And needless to say, all of those things are definitely going to get in the way of you being a successful student, but also it's going to cause some problems when you were trying to build those connections to the university. Um, but the here's the good news though. Research also shows that homesickness.

Tends to decline over time throughout the course of the semester. All right now, I should have said this at the top of the podcast, but I kind of forgot, but I have to get it some props out to my graduate assistant, Kelsey who works on emotional and mental wellness programming for our office. She actually put all this information together for me, which I really appreciate.

Uh, but when I asked her if she wanted to be a guest, she responded. Responded with a resounding no. So she's here in spirit. Um, so we actually want to provide some tips to help with homesickness, because if you're experiencing these things, there are some concrete actions that you can take. Um, To help yourself feel better.

So the first one is to build a support network on campus. An easy way to do that is to perhaps join a student organization, Virginia university. Legit has hundreds of student or yeah. And you can join from a range of different, um, groups. You can attend campus events now. Welcome week doesn't technically exist this year, but there is a new program called WVU refresh.

Uh, and so they are going to be putting on events throughout the semester that are going to be available to all WVU students. So take advantage of those. Um, you could spend quality time with your roommate or other students who live near you. Uh, this is going to explode. That should be the case during COVID, because we're really going to have to stick with those residents hall kind of groups.

Um, so get to know your neighbors. Uh, and see if you can, uh, maybe establish some connections with them. Our second tip is to make your space feel like home. So decorate your room or your apartment with things that help you feel cozy and comfortable. Something that I always do. I'm a big fan of like holiday lights that you normally see in November and December.

I put them in my living room, but. No joke. They're also in my office on campus. So are you ever stopped by my office? You will see my holiday lights. Um, you can also bring pictures from home or maybe get a wall plug in one of your favorite sense. Uh, you can also bring your favorite blanket and pillow from home.

So you get that, that feeling of home when you're away. A third piece of advice is to stay connected with friends and family. So call them, text them or video chat with someone from home. So you can feel connected without physically being there. I think everyone has been video chatting or calling or texting a little bit more during this pandemic because that's the way that we can spend time with our loved ones.

In some instances, I'm the fourth piece of advice is to write letters to friends and family. Sending letters is a really personal way to stay connected with, uh, all your folks back home and who doesn't really love getting a card or a letter in the mail. I know when I was in school, my mom would actually send me a card each week.

And it was just a note to say, Hey, you got this and I love you. And it was just really nice to get a, and we can all save the post office. Um, the fifth one is try to avoid going home. Good weekend. I know that's really tempting, but yeah, staying on campus will actually help you build connections with others and help you feel more comfortable being independent and not being at home.

So try to see if you can stay on campus on the weekends. And then the last piece is know when your next home visit will be. So that way you can write it into your calendar and then it'll give you something to look forward to, or maybe give you a little bit of comfort when you're feeling homesick. You know, it's interesting to think about when I first moved to school, when I was 18, I went to an institution that was about an hour and a half away from my childhood home.

And I didn't really experience homesickness too, too much. I would go home probably about once per month. Um, And I would stay in regular contact with my folks, but it was actually when I stayed abroad my junior year, um, I went across the sea to England and studied for a term at a school over there. And that was actually when I started to feel those pangs, because I actually couldn't go home like going home.

Wasn't an option. And that's what made me. A little bit sad. Uh, and that's what, you know, I struggled with that a little bit, but what did make it better was that I still stayed in contact with family and friends. Um, and I really took advantage of all the opportunities that the institution I was at had available for students.

We also want to give you some advice from both an out of state student and an in-state students. So we have quotes from each. So our first quote from an editor state student is that there is someone for everyone at WVU. When I first came to WVU, I was nervous because it was the first time away from home, but I realized everyone else was in the same boat as me and that I wasn't alone.

It wasn't long into my first semester that I was already calling WVU my second home. And then from an instate student, they said it is important to understand that coming to college doesn't mean you have to cut off communication with your family at home. I also felt comfort knowing that I have a campus family and friend group that would give me support when I needed it.

Never be afraid to reach out to someone on campus. If you ever need anything, or if you're feeling homesick, chances are you, aren't the only one feeling that way. So let's talk about our wellbeing snapshot. Um, so as I mentioned in the beginning first year, students have just finished moving in, uh, to their residence halls here on campus.

Classes are about to start actually by the time this podcast is released, it'll be the first day of classes. Um, social groups are forming clubs might be starting to recruit. Uh, and so you actually, maybe you're not feeling homesickness yet, but you may start to feel it in the next couple. So we also want to make sure that you're aware of all of the resources available to you on campus.

So the first one is our crew center. So they're the folks there are licensed mental health practitioners. Um, and even though, you know, the pandemic is kind of limiting their face to face appointments in person, they're still doing virtual appointments. So please take advantage of that. You're also going to see, um, the cruise center staff at events across campus, and I really recommend that you talk to them because they're cool people.

Um, and they're here to help you. Uh, and so there's still a lot of stigma around mental health and mental health issues. So just talk to them. They're cool folks. Uh, and that way you'll be more comfortable if you ever need to reach out for their professional services. Um, another department on campus is going to be student engagement because they're the folks who I handle all of the student organizations.

They're actually doing a virtual student involvement fair on September 1st, uh, which is. Really cool. I know that our student loans, ambassador team is going to be a part of that, but it's going to give student organizations a chance to showcase what they're all about. And so you can go and see if there are any organizations that you really feel that you want to belong to.

And I know it's really attempting to, um, not go cause these are not to go, but I, you know, encourage you to go. Maybe there's one, at least that'll catch your interest and maybe there's. 10 that will, um, just make sure you don't get over involved. Um, clubs sports is still going to be doing activities. Um, and they're still going to be doing, I believe their club sports fair as well, just in a different kind of way.

Uh, then we have our folks over at adventure, West Virginia, they are really excellent at helping build connections with your peers. And one of the things about this pandemic is that it's actually forcing them to more, to work in smaller groups. So you actually build those deeper connections with folks.

So. I think that's actually an advantage in this case, you can also get them well with your residence hall. You know, a lot of holes have written residents' hall councils that you can serve as maybe a floor rep or help them put on events or things like that. And that's for all the folks that you live with.

And then we have our friends over at collegiate recovery. Um, They everyone is welcome over there. It's a super chill vibe. Um, they have a virtual serenity place going this semester. They're also doing a lot of different activities, um, virtually, and that, that like a live streaming, a cooking class and all sorts of cool stuff.

Uh, so I recommend you take advantage of that. Well that about wraps it up for me today. I appreciate y'all tuning in, I will have a guest next week, so that's pretty cool. Uh, so you don't have to hear me rambling by myself, but thank you so much for listening and we will catch you next time on Wellbeing Wednesdays.