Dealing with Homesickness
Homesickness. Maybe you'll get it when you see a family doing a self-guided tour on campus. Or, when our dining hall's (FOCO) cookies remind you of your mom's baking. Either way, most students will eventually start longing for the familiarity of the people and places that they call "home".
I went to a boarding high school, so living away from family is not new to me. Others who have attended summer camps are in a similar position. Many students, though, end up feeling more homesick than they had anticipated. Thankfully, Dartmouth tries its best to counter these new feelings. There is an overwhelming abundance of support for us, regardless of how hard the transition may feel at times.
Community is a value that Dartmouth tries to embody in every sense of the word. Whether it be the friendliness of Hanover residents or the approachability of professors, students rarely feel alone. We have a Faculty Advisor and Undergraduate Dean for academic guidance. And our House Professor and Undergraduate Adviser (UGA) help us with the transition from home and navigation with dorm life. I have definitely made full use of them; my faculty advisor helped me
decipher the confusion of the course selection process.
Informally, UGAs and other upperclassmen can make a world of difference in this first term. They give genuine, relevant advice, and are able to give insight into some more socially intricate parts of Dartmouth. Upperclassmen are all always willing to sit down for a quick chat, even if we just need some reassurance. Talking with them makes me feel comforted in a similar way that my older brother does.
Still, it's no secret that many college freshmen miss their friends from high school. The thought of having to start from scratch with people can be overwhelming, albeit exciting. All of a sudden, we find ourselves spending our weekends with new faces instead of our childhood best friends. For me, this is the hardest part. I have already made some great friends in my time here, but I still find myself comparing them to my ones from home. It helps to text or call them when I get the chance. I'm also making a conscious effort to meet new people at Dartmouth; I love learning about different backgrounds from my own.
The real surprise came when rural New Hampshire proved to actually be rural. My hometown is more a suburb than a city. But I still miss the mild chaos of busy town shopping centers. I adore fall foliage, for opposite reasons, however. Something about the leaves changing colors makes me feel grounded. It reminds me that I now have a new state to call home. The tranquility of Hanover is still growing on me, but the foliage has already won my heart.
For many of my friends from high school, these past couple of weekends served as either "fall break" or "family weekend" at their respective colleges. Dartmouth's own family weekend was September 30–October 2, just after Week 2. Rather than going home for a reunion, parents brought the love to campus instead. Many campus tours and social events welcomed them throughout the weekend. They also had the privilege of watching the first Ivy football game of the season against Penn.
Most importantly, however, Family Weekend was a great way to ease our personal anxieties about being away from home before Winterim (winter break). Until then, Facetime calls and Snapchat updates can bridge the gap, with the college's community serving as more immediate encouragement.
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I'm Michal Tvrdoň, and I'm a future engineer and enthusiastic climate activist. I am from Slovakia, but I lived in Tanzania for two years as a UWCer. I am very active so my blog will be filled with a mix of sports, academics, and adventures.