Tag Archives: students

Homesickness in College Students

How to Deal with Homesickness in College

One of the main causes of distress in students is homesickness. According to the UCLA Higher Education Institute, over 30% of college students experience low-level homesickness, and about 69% of first year college students experience severe homesickness.

Homesickness is more than the concept of missing home or missing family — it’s the feeling of longing and feeling out of place. Whether they’re nearby, out-of-state, or studying in a foreign country, college students are not only experiencing a new phase of life, but they’re also at a new school, in a new place.

Although it’s normal to feel homesick, wanting to enjoy a home-cooked meal with family or not wanting to deal with adult responsibilities and academic pressures may quickly make homesickness grow. Homesickness builds in waves and can turn into more serious mental health issues if not taken seriously.

Last year, Assist America worked on a severe case of homesickness, helping an 18-year-old student from Germany who was hospitalized after his homesickness transformed into serious depressive episodes.

In the weeks leading up to his hospitalization, the student had shown increased signs of homesickness, including mentioning that he wanted to go home, a decrease in the desire to participate in activities and social events, and suicidal thoughts.

After a while, his roommates told the university staff about his behavior, and he was later admitted to the hospital. Once he was stable, Assist America arranged for transportation supervised by a medical escort to take him back to Germany.

Tips for Overcoming Homesickness

Some preventive measures can be taken by both parents and students to help overcome homesickness.

For Parents

  • You can help your child prepare for college life by visiting the campus ahead of time so they can familiarize themselves with its surroundings.

  • In the years before college, consider sending your child to summer camps, activities, or to visit family away from home , so they can gradually learn to deal with separation anxiety.

  • Avoid expressing your own anxiety about your child leaving for college in front of them. Instead, talk optimistically and positively about their new experiences to come.

  • Encourage your child to find trusted friends and adults on campus. These relationships will help them build connections in their new community and ease the transition.

  • Consider sending little surprise care packages to your child. Include their favorite cookies or candies, a new book, gift cards to their favorite stores, a letter, and a funny family photo.

  • Make the most of technology. Staying in touch on the phone or through video chat is easier than ever and can help the whole family feel connected.

For Students

  • Stay engaged in campus activities. Many colleges organize welcome week events to help students get used to college culture.

  • Establish and stick to a daily routine, even if it’s difficult to stay on track with exams and events around every corner. Routines are good for dealing with stress and anxiety and will help you adjust to your new community and class schedule.

  • Feeling homesick is normal, as long as you can handle the situation. To help battle feelings of loneliness, keep a family picture on your study table, video-chat often, or go old-school and write letters to family and friends back home.

  • Find ways to reward yourself as you make gains in your new routine. For instance, after submitting an important assignment or taking a big exam, take some time to do something fun or treat yourself with something you like.

  • If campus is only a drive away, you and your parents and friends can plan a few weekends throughout the school year to visit each other on campus, at home, or to meet at a halfway-point.

  • When packing for college, take some of your favorite decorations from your room to make your new room feel more like home.

  • Know what services are available to you to help you cope with homesickness. Too often students don’t realize all the things their college has ready to help them with exactly these issues. Never shy away from seeking advice from a trusted adult on campus about these services. Or you can look into these services privately on your school’s website.

While Studying Abroad

  • Students who study abroad are even more likely to feel homesick since they have to adjust to a whole new culture and lifestyle, learn to speak a new language, and meet all new people from many backgrounds.

  • A challenge while studying abroad is knowing who you can ask questions and how and where to get help. Before leaving, create a reference list with the names, contact details, and roles of people that will be helpful during your stay. Once you arrive, be sure to add anyone important you meet to your list. 

  • Schools often have an international student department who will organize welcome events and get-togethers. Be sure to attend those activities, especially at the beginning of your time abroad.

  • Many international programs also have Facebook groups where former and new students can exchange tips and experiences. Joining these groups to make connections and prepare before leaving home.

  • Make friends with people from the same country as you. When you’re missing home, spend time together. Your shared experience of studying abroad can make you feel a little closer to home.

How Assist America Can Help

Assist America provides useful services that can reassure parents and students studying out-of-state or abroad.

For example, Assist America can help students find where and how they can refill certain prescriptions before they even leave home, so they can plan their departure with peace of mind.

Students who know they will need to see a doctor while away from home can call us or Assist America for referrals. Assist America also provides emergency trauma counseling for students on the phone, with referrals for follow-up sessions with specialists.

Finally, students going to a foreign country can use the Pre-Trip Information tool on Assist America’s website and the mobile app to familiarize themselves with their destination.

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Signs of Dyslexia

Dyslexia Awareness Month

October is also Dyslexia Awareness Month. Dyslexia is a neurological condition, which causes a difference in how people understand and process language.

Dyslexia Awareness Month

 

Since there’s no cure, a dyslexia diagnosis can feel overwhelming. While it makes reading more difficult, almost all people with dyslexia can learn to read.

Learning to Read

 

Dyslexia does not affect intelligence. Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Stephen Spielberg, and many more have excelled despite having dyslexia.

Intelligence and Dyslexia

 

Dyslexia runs in families, so if you have dyslexia, you should keep an eye out for signs of it in your children.

Dyslexia and Your Kids

 

Your child might have dyslexia if they have trouble learning their sounds or letters, or to speak, read, and write.

Getting special instruction that breaks down language structure can help your student cope with dyslexia.

Help Learning with Dyslexia

 

You have a right to get help or special considerations when taking certain tests, applying for colleges, or applying for jobs.

Your Rights with Dyslexia

National Campus Safety Awareness Month

National Campus Safety Awareness Month

September is National Campus Safety Awareness Month, and there are tips you can share with your new college freshman.

First up, make sure your kids understand digital safety and make smart decisions online.

Staying Safe on Technology

 

One of the most important campus safety laws in the U.S. is the Jeanne Clery Act. Learn more.

Important Campus Safety Legistlation

 

There are all kinds of handy phone apps to help students stay safe in emergencies or when going out.

Phone Apps to Keep Students Safe

 

Just like you want to know where to go in an emergency, make sure you and your freshman know the school’s sexual assault policies.

Make sure your kids know what a healthy relationship should look like in college and get helpful resources.

A Healthy Relationship

 

Friends can help keep you safe but can also drive your behavior. Learn more about the power of the peer group.

Your Peer Group and Campus Safety

 

Know your rights, file a complaint, or find a crisis service with the help of the U.S. government.

Know Your Rights & Protections

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Health Checklist for Summer's End

Summer Health Checklist

Your kids probably just kicked off summer vacation, but between the trips to the pool, family vacations, and summer sporting events, there are a few things you should add to your to-do list to get your kids ready for next school year. This back-to-school health checklist can help!

Shots

Many schools won’t allow any students to come to school without their immunization record. Immunizations, or shots, help expose your kids to a tiny dose of a disease so that their bodies will already know how to fight off a bigger dose if they come in contact with it again.

These shots protect them from all kinds of diseases, from measles to cervical cancer. And they’re safe!

Kids get different shots at different times, so these handy charts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can help you figure out what they need this year:

Health Alliance covers most immunizations, including flu shots. 

Vision

As many as one in 20 kids can’t see out of one of their eyes. But if they’ve been living without vision in that eye all along, they might not even know something is off.

Expressing that they have trouble seeing can also be difficult for young children, and it can be just as hard for parents to realize their kids are having trouble seeing.

Seeing well is key to learning to read and write and doing well in school. So there’s no better time than back-to-school season to get your kids a vision checkup to see if they need glasses or an updated prescription.

Talk to the School

One of the most important parts of this time of year is talking to your kids’ school. Making sure the school has up-to-date information could save your child’s life.

  • Is the emergency contact information correct for your family? Can the school reach you or your family if something happens?
  • Does the school have a full list of all the medications your child takes? Even if he or she doesn’t take them at school, it is important the school knows what your child is on in case of an emergency.
  • Does the school know of all the health problems it might have to deal with? For example, does the school know what your child is allergic to, like peanuts or bee stings?
  • Does your child have any physical restriction, like asthma or a heart condition? Are there sorts of activities he or she should avoid?

Little Things That Make a Big Difference

Before school starts again, there are also some little things you can help your kids do to feel good and succeed in school.

  • Help them get enough sleep. A sleep schedule can help your kids get into a routine and stay alert all day long. Growing kids need at least 8 hours a night, and teens need even more.
  • Make sure they have a healthy breakfast for all-day energy.
  • Help them know their healthy options. Vending machines are always tempting. But you can help them know what choices are healthy and will keep them going all day and how to limit things like chips and candy.
  • Encourage exercise. Whether it’s P.E., playing a sport, or riding their bike to school, just one hour of activity a day can help kids feel less stressed, stay healthy, sleep better, build their self-esteem, and grow healthy muscles, bones, and joints.

Talk to your kids’ pediatrician if you have more questions about their health this summer.

Annual checkups with your doctor are perfect at this time of year. Kids can get their shots, a routine checkup, and a sports physical all at once if they need it!

Honoring History

Vantage Point: Remember Our Wenatchee Past with Don’t Wait History Project

Memorial Day was a response to the unprecedented losses of the Civil War across both the North and South. In 1864, women from Boalsburg, PA, put flowers on the graves of their dead from the recent Battle of Gettysburg. In the years to come, women throughout the North and South did the same, and it became known as an act of healing regional wounds.

Starting out as Decoration Day in 1868, federal law declared Memorial Day the official name in 1967. At the first Decoration Day celebration, former Union General (and later, President) James A. Garfield said, “If silence is ever golden, it must be beside the graves of the 15,000 men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem, the music of which can never be sung.”

I have a good friend who served as a Marine during the Vietnam War. Everyone knows what a scary time in history that was, but what stands out today is how those who served in the past helped pave the way for current military men and women to protect our freedom.

Here in Wenatchee, a small group, led by Lisa Bradshaw and Melissa Knott, is not just honoring our Wenatchee elders and their contributions to Wenatchee history, but the group is also going a step further to memorialize the elders’ unique stories and actual voices using high school broadcast media students, video, photographs, and print.

The Don’t Wait History Project includes stories of soldiers who fought in wars, entrepreneurs during economic hardship, people who survived illnesses before cures were discovered, and husbands and wives who lost great love, only to find it a second time. The project uses social media to bridge the gap between youth and seniors to help them learn from one another.

Health Alliance is privileged to be one of the sponsors bringing this valuable exhibit to the Wenatchee Valley Museum on May 15 at 5 p.m. The exhibit will run through June 5, and we hope you will take the time in honor of Memorial Day to come hear stories significant to Wenatchee history and in doing so, respect our local elders for their willingness to share their stories.

Brain Awareness and Communication

Brain Awareness Week

It was Brain Awareness Week this week which is sponsored by the Society for Neuroscience to teach students all about the amazing power of the brain. We will be giving you interesting info about your brain each day this week.

First up is a TED talk all about how one team is mapping how your brain works.

Mapping Your Brain

 

Ever wondered why that song is stuck in your head? It’s called an earworm! Learn more about this interesting brain phenomenon.

Dancing Earworms

 

When you hit your thumb, that’s where you think the pain is. But actually, it’s in your brain. Listen to this NPR story about how pain is really in your head.

Hammer and Thumb

 

Smell has a huge impact on your life. It’s even the number one sense that triggers memories. But how does it really work? It’s all about your brain.

Homemade Smell

 

The power of expectations makes the placebo effect possible. Learn more about this power of your brain.

The Power of Placebo

 

How does your brain use chemicals to communicate? Scientists have unlocked the process of neurotransmitters.

What actually happens to you on a sugar rush? This podcast tells you all about your brain on sugar.

Your Brain on Sugar

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