The echoing chimes from the Gasson bell tower ring throughout campus, Bapst is empty, and the perfectly landscaped Quad is coated with blankets and frisbees. This can only mean one thing: fall semester has begun.
At this point, every Boston College student has arrived on campus and successfully moved into their dorm (which hopefully has air conditioning). During the first week of school, you will have a good chance of finding students in class or at the library, but once the weekend rolls around, we are nowhere to be found. The upperclassmen are reconnecting with old friends and maybe even making new ones. Freshmen may be doing this as well. However, if you are a member of the new freshman class, you are also probably experiencing some degree of homesickness.
On the surface it may appear as if every freshman is ecstatically heading down to one of the Mods for the first weekend of school—don’t be fooled. Underclassmen, listen up: Many, if not all of you are comparing your lives back home to your current lives at BC and having some serious “FOMO” of your friends’ Snapchat stories at other colleges. I presume I described this situation pretty accurately because, just last year, I was an incoming freshman too.
I remember the first week of my college career, Welcome Week, being the hell week of my semester. I had no enthusiasm to foster and I was being repeatedly hazed with happiness. I was debilitated by endless meetings and the task of memorizing random people’s names, major, and hometown knowing I would never see them again. All I wanted to do was go back to my dorm, crawl into a ball and call my mom to come to pick me up because coming here was a mistake. I had a pretty severe case of homesickness that a care package just couldn’t fix.
Although Welcome Week is a rite of passage that some of you may enjoy and others may not, I can promise, based on personal experience, it does get better. You’re not alone (even if it feels like you are). Everyone on campus is feeling this way in some form or another. Homesickness is real, unavoidable, and not just reserved for the freshmen. Upperclassmen are not exempt from the feeling of being lost and engulfed. Homesickness isn’t just the feeling of missing your family and life back home, although those are side effects. It’s the sense of being lost and having stress or anxiety caused by separation from people and places that you know. It’s the absence of the love and security you are used to at home.
I wish I could say my homesickness was gone after the first week like the show Grown-ish depicted, but that was far from the truth. To be honest, my homesickness wasn’t gone until after the first month of classes when my routine was finally established. The adjustment period from your life at home to your new life at BC can be hard, but there are a few things I discovered that can help you navigate your homesickness and ease the transitional phase:
Establish a routine. In the long run, my routine saved me during a very hard academic year. Think about your basics: wake up, make your bed, brush your teeth, and walk to McElroy for breakfast. Because I was in a new environment like many of you, it gave me structure and a distraction from a situation I was just getting used to, and helped tremendously improve my confidence. However, your routine shouldn’t be so strict that you feel bad deviating from it. The whole point of creating a routine for yourself is to help alleviate stress, not add more.
Make sure you leave your dorm. Even though your room may have everything you need, it’s important to get out of your living space every once in a while. Getting out of your room every day is instrumental in shaking homesickness during the first couple weeks. I know the comfort of your room may be great, but isolating yourself will paralyze your social life and leave a bitter aftertaste of your first-year experience.
And, last but not least, give yourself time to adjust to BC. You literally moved your entire life to a new place. College is fun, exciting, and rewarding, but expecting an immediate utopia is unrealistic. Know that being away from home and everything you know is hard. Homesickness won’t be cured overnight, but it will get easier with time and an optimistic outlook. Before long, you won’t be able to imagine yourself anywhere but BC.
Welcome to BC, and I hope you enjoy your time here. I know it’s difficult at first, but it really does get better. Actually, it gets more than just “better.” Slowly, but surely, it becomes home.