Double Sunrise Young Women's Health: early teen to college years

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Feeling Homesick?

Feeling homesick at school is more common than you think and there are things that you can do to help yourself if you are experiencing feelings of homesickness.

First, it's helpful to understand why you feel the way you do. There are good reasons to explain why most young women experience homesickness at times. College is an important step that you've chosen to meet your personal goals and dreams. Contemporary researchers have shown that young women grow when "connected" in healthy, caring relationships. Especially when starting a new school, you are away from your supports, which are your (extended) family and friends.

At the Wellesley Center for Research of Women, Kaplan and Klein explain that traditional literature describes the primary task of late adolescence is to become autonomous, to break off family ties, and to individuate and separate. In their paper Women's Self Development in Late Adolescence they* explain that this does not fit young women's modes of growth. They state "...the task for the college woman is to build on parental and peer relationships so as to enhance her sense of self as a competent and able being, thus becoming empowered toward the fullest utilization of her abilities".

It makes sense that starting a new school often leaves a gap where you are geographically away from family and friends, and new relationships have not yet developed. It takes time to develop healthy relationships, so when you go away to school it makes sense that at times you'd miss the intimate connections that you rely on.

Along with this, the academic setting can often be isolating by the degree of importance put on grades, competitive endeavors, and level of achievement toward an ability to provide for oneself economically in an independent manner. All of this can leave a young women feeling homesick.

After reading Henri Nouwen's book Lifesigns I often link "feeling at home" with feeling intimacy. It seems true that whenI feel "at home" with someone or "at home" some place, I experience even for a brief moment, a feeling that's warm, safe - intimate.

So, what can you do in the mean time, in that gap or middle time while you're new at school?

Tips for When You're Feeling Homesick

  • Think about ways you feel connected to your family and/or friends and reach out and make contact. It will also help to share your feelings with someone that you trust. When feeling homesick, it may help to call, email, or send a card that "says it all."
  • Sometimes, it's a time to connect with yourself by journaling and cuddling up with your comforter and listening to music that you love or by going for a walk.

For more "Tips" click here.
*Kaplan and Klein conclude these findings from their observations and clinical experience at the Stone Center as well as work done by Miller, Jordan, Surrey, Josselson, and Gilligan.

If you are feeling suicidal or unsafe now or need immediate help: Dial 911 or the operator and just ask for help, or go to your nearest hospital Emergency Room. For less urgent problems, call your doctor or school/ health clinic for an appropriate referral and help.

Hang here at DoubleSunrise: Young Women's Health, where there will continually be more information on these subjects.

Keeping connected in order to grow

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