Every morning I call my mom; every morning she picks up. During my orientation adventure, I overheard someone tell their friend that they should probably text their mom because it had “been a couple of days.” My jaw almost dropped. A text? A couple of days?
I am a first-generation student, and my Salvadoran family has always been central to my life. I have also always felt intrinsically bound to my mom as we both had to grow in a new country with a new language. Now, I’m more than two thousand miles away, yet again in a new world.
My arrival in Los Angeles was not glamorous, to say the least. I sat alone on the cold floor of LAX Terminal Five for almost three hours, waiting for a friend I was moving in with. Usually, waiting at the airport would not have been as depressing as it was. But I was across the country, facing a huge and permanent change in my life and environment.
Surprisingly, the trip to LA was harder than the actual feeling of being all moved in. The day after moving in, sleep had helped the feeling of homesickness subside.
That being said, everyone deals with being away from home differently. Maybe you’re the type of person that, while you’re trying to fall asleep at the end of the day, homesickness keeps you up. Or maybe you sleep very well at night!
“I am a first-generation student, and my Salvadoran family has always been central to my life. I have also always felt intrinsically bound to my mom as we both had to grow in a new country with a new language. Now, I’m more than two thousand miles away, yet again in a new world.”
For me, homesickness is in the strange taste of platanos from Frank compared to the taste of platanos from home. Homesickness is seeing kids play on the Quad and being reminded that across the country, my sister is playing in my backyard. Homesickness is unintentionally calling the small Blaisdell room upstairs “home.”
So… when you’re sad, try these things out!
- Decorate your room to remind you of home! I made it a priority to put up pictures of my sister on the wall. Her face appears eleven times in my room and her photos are in constant rotation on my home screen.
- Plan your next visit home. Whether that be for Thanksgiving or even after the end of your years at the Claremont Colleges, knowing when you’ll be home will keep you motivated and focused on something other than missing home. As someone who moved across the country for college, it’s not possible for me to go home whenever I like. I’m comforted when others share their feelings of homesickness, but I also feel isolated when my friends casually discuss taking the train home for a long weekend. Since arriving here in August, the next time I will be back home is not until winter break, which can feel like forever in my experience.
- Ask for help! You’re not alone in experiencing these feelings. There is strength in sharing how you feel as you create an environment for others where it’s safe to share your own first-year experience, particularly as a first-generation student. In addition, the 5Cs have resources like the Monsour Counseling Center and class deans to help you adjust to this big change.
- A peculiar but particularly useful tip is to visit Target, Walmart or any retail store that you have back home. These, for the most part, look the same as every store nationwide. Perusing the aisles of Target in Montclair feels comfortably like wandering the aisles of a Target in northern Virginia with my mom and baby sister sitting in the shopping cart.
- Last but not least, call your mom, dad, parents, guardian or a hometown friend. It’s hard to see their faces so close to you yet so far away and smaller on the phone screen, dim from the glares of the California sun. It was hard for me to see my mom so pixelated on my screen, but it undoubtedly had a soothing effect on my anxieties.
I called my mom this morning. Have you called your mom today?
An earlier version of this article incorrectly spelled Camila Amaya Navarrete’s name as “Camila Navarrette.” It has been updated to reflect the correct spelling. TSL regrets this error.