It is that time of year again. The returning students have just come back and new incoming freshman and transfer students are here as well. With the return, there is one thing that really gets to some of us, and that is homesickness. Who probably are the biggest victims to this are the freshman and possible transfer students. From my past experience, I remember a when I first moved to Toccoa Falls College my freshman year. It was really hard to start over with making friends and getting used to a new area. Never did it cross my mind that I would live outside my home-state of Alabama and move to Georgia. That is just something you never think of (especially in the South).
One of the things you notice in a person who is dealing with this problem of homesickness is isolation. We all know many people who seem isolated and usually that is their personality; but we should take the initiative to step up and get to know these students that just seem like they are either alone or just finding hard to fit in.
Another sign of homesickness someone might show is that they are constantly being in contact with their family, and friends at home. Now it is a good thing to have those lasting friendships and relationships from your hometown; it is bad though to be obsessed with them though. For many of us that have gotten out of these stages of homesickness or are able to control it, we need to get them out of those habits. Find ways to get them involved so that they do not have time to even keep contact with their parents and friends back at home for a day or keep contact at a minimum. This will help them feel at home here in Toccoa Falls College. The last thing we need is someone to leave because they did not feel welcome. I can understand other reasons why people leave here; but I really do believe if we are saying that we are authentic community, we need to live by it.
Last but not least, we all know when someone is crying or sad when we first move in that there is a problem; and that problem probably is homesickness. Many of us question and wonder what we do in that kind of situation. Sometimes we can do things about it, and sometimes we can not. Something we can do is pray with them and for them. Even if they will not let you pray with them, assure them that you are praying for them. It makes a huge difference to know that they are cared for on this campus. Second best thing to do also is listening. Just let them vent about dealing with homesickness. This can really help to give ideas on how to make TFC be home to them even though this is not home; for example: they always went to Sonic for happy hour with their best friend at home. This can be a opportunity to make that person feel at home by going to sonic for happy hour and other social activities. There are so many things people miss about home and even though we can not bring everything back from home to here, we can try to bring some characteristics and interact with them with things they were used to doing normally at home.
Homesickness is something that affects most individuals coming to college. Even though this can mainly be directed toward freshman, it does not exclude upperclassmen that still feel homesick after every Summer and Winter break. Let us be more intentional in this subject with helping others get through this just as others helped us through it also.