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I want to go home.

generic usernamegeneric username Posts: 8Registered User New Member
edited January 2007 in Parents Forum
Dear parents,

I know that other threads similar to this one exist in this forum, and I apologize for my lack of originality, but I don't know what else to do. I just want someone to listen and make me feel better, because quite frankly, I am a little bit miserable at school so far.
I am a freshman at a small university in the northeast. This school was my first choice, and I visited twice during my senior year. I was convinced that this particular school was an ideal fit for me, and I was incredibly excited to begin college. Although my school is located approximately 1500 miles away from the town in which I was born and grew up, I didn't think the distance would be an issue at all. I am also extremely shy/introverted, but I didn't expect that my ability to make friends would be hindered in any way.
College, however, has not turned out to be as idyllic as I had hoped. Things just don't feel right, and I'm not sure exactly why. Some of the contributing factors include:

1. I really miss my family. My mother, who is a single parent, is one of my best friends. My senior year was a pretty difficult year for us, and I remember thinking how wonderful it would be when I was far away from her at college. However, now that I actually _am_ far away, I miss her very much, and regret being so lame and unappreciative last year. I also miss the standard "being away from home" things: sleeping in my own bed, not sharing a bathroom with 25 other people, seeing my cat.

2. I feel conspicuously poor. As I mentioned, my mother is a single parent, and I grew up with very little money (her average yearly income is approximately $15,000). The school which I attend is...affluent, to put it mildly, and I was only able to attend thanks to generous grants and federal aid. I feel as though my mannerisms betray my poverty, despite my best attempts to blend in. Thus, I feel uncomfortable and anxious all the time. Last weekend was Parents' Weekend, and of course, my mother couldn't afford to fly here. It just makes me so sad because I know that she would have given pretty much anything to attend. I didn't even want her to buy me anything or take me out to eat; I just wanted her to come and see my school and be proud of me.

3. I am really, really introverted, and extremely reticent. Somehow, I ended up on a floor of people with whom I have little to nothing in common -- they are all loud, conservative, and like to go "clubbing" or to get drunk at the frats. During the first week or so, I didn't think that this would matter too much -- I assumed that there were friends to be made in classes or activities. Unfortunately, this hasn't proven to be true. It seems that most people make friends with their hallmates, so it's extremely difficult to assimilate into an already established group, especially since I find it nearly impossible to start conversations or even make consistent eye contact. So, in addition to being homesick, I am terribly lonely. I often go days without speaking to anyone at all, and this, of course, only serves to make me miss my home and family more intensely. I eat every meal alone, and spend a lot of time outside of class in the library, just so that I don't have to feel so strange and lonely. I should probably note here that I didn't have a huge group of friends in high school, but at least I had people to talk to and eat my meals with.

4. I have tried to join activities, but they seem to be populated by people who don't really want me around. The one activity in which I really wanted to participate requires me to miss too much class to be feasible.

5. I am the very first member of my family to go to college, so I feel like I'm somehow letting everyone down by complaining and still being sad after six weeks of class.

There are some positive aspects, as well. I really enjoy all of my classes, and I'm doing well in them so far.
On the whole, though, I am pretty miserable here. I feel isolated and lonely, sort of like I'm an explorer from another planet who doesn't speak the language or understand any of the customs of the native people. It would really help if just one person would talk to me or eat with me. Lately, I've found that small things (not being able to solve a question from my homework, feeling put on the spot in class) upset me more than they should. I cry much more easily than I used to. There's nothing specific for me to be sad about, and I think that that makes the whole situation worse: I can't find a way to justify the way that I feel to myself.
Thanks for reading.
Post edited by generic username on
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Replies to: I want to go home.

  • ADadADad Posts: 4,916Registered User Senior Member
    Have you considered speaking with someone at your college's counseling center?
  • ellemenopeellemenope Posts: 11,380Registered User Senior Member
    You can't possibly be the only first-generation, low income college student on campus. Finding a way to get in touch with this group and commiserating with and getting advice from people in this group (especially upperclassmen) could help you feel less isolated.

    I'd look into a Hispanic or Af-Am group on campus for help.
  • DRJ4DRJ4 Posts: 1,284Registered User Member
    Generic username,

    Your reasons for going home are logical and well-articulated. I don't blame you for wanting to go home but I hope you will think about giving college a little more time.

    First, I agree with ADad that you should seek counseling, especially if you may be depressed. It is particularly difficult to be alone and not have someone to speak with. There are probably counselors available at your college - almost every college offers counseling services - and it often helps to talk to someone. Most freshman gets homesick at college and college counselors have experience dealing with this issue. You are not alone.

    Second, you are clearly a thoughtful person and it seems you are honest in evaluating your positive and negative qualities and your motivations. So, in candor, do you think you can stick it out until the semester ends? Our son was in a similar situation to you because he was homesick as a freshman and did not have a roommate to talk to or eat with. It makes you feel like the odd man out if you don't have a support system but things often get better if you can stick it out.

    Third, it sounds like you are bothered by the distance between you and home. Some kids want to go far away to college only to discover it's not that great once they do. That may be a reason to consider transferring to a closer college. If you think transferring might be a good idea, spend some time thinking about colleges and checking their transfer requirements. At the same time, don't quit on your current studies. It sounds like you are doing well and that's important - whether or not you decide to transfer.

    Fourth, college is not idyllic for anyone. You've hit the speed bump that everyone hits, often about 1-2 months into the freshman year. Tests and papers are due and you may be feeling the pressure even if you are doing well in your courses. It's probably not as much fun as you thought it would be, and you've discovered that college is a job. That does not mean, however, that your college experience won't prove satisfying and valuable. Perhaps you've had other times in your life when an experience started off poorly but ended up being a good thing. Try to remember those experiences and learn from what you did then.

    Fifth, remember the reasons why you thought this college would be perfect for you. I suspect you had good reasons for your belief and that they still apply. If you were excited about the special concerts, plays or other activities on campus, make sure you attend some. Talk to your professors during their office hours. College is a great place to meet other students but you can also benefit from meeting faculty and staff. You might also check to see if there are any part-time campus jobs available where you could meet people, find a place to fit in, and earn extra money.

    Last and most important, call your Mom. You describe her as your best friend and that makes her the best person to talk to. She may not know much about college but she knows a lot about you.
  • bookiemombookiemom Posts: 1,879Registered User Senior Member
    generic: I'm so sorry. I really sympathize with you. It's so hard when everyone else seems connected and you don't feel that way. I do think you should go to the counseling center and make an appt. That will help to have someone regular to talk to about this.

    My D also had a hard time getting established at college and didn't make any friends on her floor to speak of, only in her major. She also often ate alone or in her room the first year. She was homesick too, just like you, but she is now a senior and has stayed at her college (1,000 miles from home).

    Can you look around for someone else who looks approachable at meals or is maybe by herself? Try going in to your professors during their office hours? Ask someone in class to study with you? Go work out at the health center? You need to at least try to talk to some people every day.
  • jasmomjasmom Posts: 989Registered User Member
    gen,
    It's so hard to make a big decision when you're feeling so blue. Others have mentioned the counseling center. Please do check that out. Much of what you're describing suggests that social anxiety has made this transition even tougher than it otherwise would be.
    A counselor can help you figure out whether to "hang in there" while you see if psychotherapy and/or medication is helpful OR whether your misery is so intense that going home is your best option. Also, a counselor will know the resources available at your school and may help you connect with activities, a mentor, or students who feel more approachable. If the idea of talking to a stranger bothers you, print out your post to show the counselor. The issues you're having are treatable and your feelings are likely to improve with proper assistance.
  • jenskate1jenskate1 Posts: 1,391Registered User Senior Member
    Others have made a variety of good points, but one thing I'd like to add (or just reiterate) is that you are not alone! I would guess that a huge number (possible all) of your fellow freshmen have felt alone and like they didn't fit in at some point this year. I know that I considered transferring out of my college at the end of my first semester. But eventually, I made friends. It takes time, but for almost everyone, it happens. I love my college now, but I felt much the way you did at first.
  • LawrenceLawrence Posts: 1Registered User New Member
    well i heared you story and i really feel for you. though i am still a begiiner at this site but i know this would help a long way. try facing your studies and you would soon get over the stress and for being lonly, make your books your company. i would write you back soon. bye stay cool but and be yourself.
  • MarianMarian Posts: 9,277Registered User Senior Member
    You're not letting anybody down. You're just facing two problems at the same time -- you're the sort of person who makes friends slowly and you're at a college where the predominant culture is different from yours.

    Definitely seek some help -- you could try talking to your RA or faculty advisor for a start or just go directly to the college's counseling center or academic advising center. Just tell them the truth: you're unhappy at college and you're trying to figure out whether you can do anything to improve your situation or whether it would make more sense for you to transfer to another college. See what ideas they have, and make sure that you mention that you come from a family with very little money and that you feel out of place among the affluent students at your college. Private colleges want students like you -- the kind who come from lower-income families. You contribute important diversity to the college's population (even if you are white). Colleges don't want people like you to transfer out.

    One specific idea: Do you have a part-time job? If not, perhaps you could look for one -- either on-campus or nearby. A lot of socializing goes on at jobs; people talk while they stock shelves. The other students who are working at the bookstore, the library, or the local bagel place are likely to have something in common with you -- namely, they aren't made of money, either (that's why they're working).

    It doesn't hurt to consider transfer options, too. You might very well feel more comfortable at a state university, where people are likely to come from a wider range of financial situations.
  • wisteriawisteria Posts: 625Registered User Member
    My heart goes out to you.

    I agree with the suggestion of visiting a counselor.

    The idea of considering a part-time job is a good one. It can connect you with other students. Some colleges even have jobs where students can get paid for community service work, like tutoring at-risk kids in a nearby school. The work can be rewarding and you may find you have more in common with your coworkers than with the other students you've met so far.

    Another thought--some colleges have service-learning classes where community service is part of the work of the class. Again, that could link you together with your classmates in a closer way than most classes do.

    Another idea: is there a subject in which you'd find a study group useful or fun? Even though you're doing well in your classes, you can deepen your own understanding by going over the trickier points with others. If you're feeling shy about approaching others to set up a study group, you can just post a message to your classmates on Blackboard, WebCT, Angel, or whatever course-management system your college uses, saying that you are looking for other students in the class interested in forming a study group.
  • sjmom2329sjmom2329 Posts: 2,930Registered User Member
    Dear Gen,
    I won't repeat the wonderful suggestions of the other posters, but I wanted to reassure you that you are not the only one who's felt this way. I, too, was a first generation college student (actually I'm the first of my family to be born in this country) and we were "financially challenged." I think you've described the situation very well -- "sort of like I'm an explorer from another planet who doesn't speak the language or understand any of the customs of the native people." I felt the same way in similar circumstances when I was your age.

    If you can look at this like an adventure, where you are trying to experience new things, it might help. Remember, this is an academic learning experience more than anything else, so keep up with your studies. It's also a chance to learn about how other Americans live and view the world.

    In this kind of situation, it's hard to join large groups. If you can find a smaller club, or volunteer somewhere, you can get to know a couple of people at a time. No one needs a million friends -- most of us just need one or two people with whom we can connect.

    You might consider writing for your school newspaper. You write very well, and are quite articulate. All of the other suggestions apply, but I would like to add that sometimes there is an aura about what college is supposed to be like. Very few people experience the fantasy that college is painted to be, and many take a few years to really feel at home. Hang in there!
  • StickerShockStickerShock Posts: 3,781Registered User Senior Member
    I often go days without speaking to anyone at all...

    generic, this mad me so sad to hear. Please go to the counseling center or your RA. I doubt you have a need for therapy or more serious intervention. I just hope you can be directed toward a place with warm, welcoming people. Lonliness can be so painful.

    Don't worry anout $$$. People really don't care as much as you think. And don't feel guilty about giving your mom a hard time senior year. Just call her & tell her how much you appreciate her & miss her. You will make friends. Just a bit slower than the more gregarious types do. Part-time job & study group are great ideas. And definitely exercise regularly. It will help lift your mood.
  • weenieweenie Posts: 5,793Registered User Senior Member
    Generic,
    I might take a slightly different approach than others on here. Perhaps you really don't fit in there, and you're right about that! Usually, I always want to encourage kids to stick it out too...and some of those kids will get comfortable eventually, but some won't.

    I know when I was in college (over 25 years ago) I knew the first day I was there that it was a poor choice for me. My parents discouraged me from transferring out, and while I did settle in, it did not turn into a great college experience by any means.

    So, perhaps exploring transfer options is a good idea for you. Do not rule out a larger university - I actually think that for kids who feel like they don't fit in at the smaller, more exclusive LACs, the univerisities offer much more diversity, and, yes, frequently less of a clique environemnt (especially if they are not Greek oriented).

    So, don't fear giving yourself some credit. You may very well be right about the school you are in, you certainly sound like you know what you're talking about. So much of an idyllic college life is hyped. It may be that it is simply not for you. Live and learn and move forward with confidence.
  • maritemarite Posts: 21,586Registered User Senior Member
    Generic:

    Your post takes me back to my first months in college. I, too, was miles away from home; indeed, a whole continent away. My parents certainly could not come for Parents Weekend, either. I was not very happy those first few months. There was the language problem and the fact that I was very unfamiliar with student culture in the US. I did not make friends with girls on my floor or students in my classes. But I became active in the international students association and we shared our happy and not so happy experiences. I also attended various events (concerts, plays, etc...) and there, I met students who shared my tastes in music and other activities.
    October was probably the most difficult time. I'm not sure why, exactly. Perhaps because of midterms? The change in weather? At any rate, by December, we were feeling more comfortable with life on an American college campus and we all had a wider circle of friends.

    It's early days yet. Give it time. See how things go at the end of the first semester. If you still feel the same way, you can apply to transfer to another school. But keep in mind that, unless you choose to attend a commuter college, you won't be able to visit your mom or your cat on a regular basis. So try to sort out what it is that you miss most or that you dislike most about your current situation.

    Let us know how things go in a few weeks.
  • jmmomjmmom Posts: 9,079Registered User Senior Member
    Generic, lots of wonderful advice above. I hope you find some ideas that feel like they could work for you. I particularly like Marian's idea of a part-time job, I'm thinking on campus in particular, as a way of finding friends -although it may take time- who also do not have unlimited budgets.

    Two thoughts: 1) so many kids feel as you do and I wanted you to know that it is still early. I know of several who felt, even at Thanksgiving vacation or later, that they would be leaving their school for reasons similar to yours. By end of first term, it had turned around.
    2) shyness is a complicating factor (obviously :rolleyes:) when in a new environment. I'm thinking that you could focus on this aspect in speaking to a counselor, which I hope you will. There are counselors who help focus on behaviors and goals (vs. analytic "therapy") who could help and support you with breaking through, one step at a time. Helping you find ways to approach someone and say "want to head over to the Dining Commons?" Might seem impossibly difficult at the moment, but with some help you can do it.
  • micromommicromom Posts: 201Registered User Junior Member
    Generic,
    Posts like yours really pull at our heart stings. I think going away from home for the first time and living with strangers is much more difficult than people think. In your case, you are surrounded by young adults who might not be the most sensitive people. The others might have found "their people" and are totally oblivious to "outsiders" like you. Here are some suggestions that I can think of:

    (a)Do you go to church, synagogue? Is there a fellowship of like-believers you can join? It does not have to be on campus. If it is a church, etc, there are tons of ways you can be involved. Churches always have needs - piano players, Sunday School aides, etc. It feels great to be needed. You can also look for other volunteer organizations where there are adults in charge. Adults are usually more sensitive and not so wrapped up in themselves.

    (b)Have you considered working in a research lab? Even if you cannot get a paying job, often you can work as a volunteer. A research lab is a nice little community you could belong to. Often times, the people (post-docs, grad students, undergrad students, volunteers) in the lab get together for after- hours socialization such as softball games, parties, etc. When I was a grad student, we always had undergrads volunteering - they often did nonglamorous jobs such as "dish-washing". However, they enjoyed hanging out in the lab - somewhere they could do their homework even.

    So, find that one place, or that one group of people. If you do, you won't even notice all the uncaring people on your floor. Take care.
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