Sophie Henry

Being homesick in college is not a given. Several of my friends were perfectly fine leaving home, and that is not to say they did not love their hometowns. I find that many high-achieving Yalies are so eager and prepared for college-life opportunities that they don’t long for home at all.

I felt I was one of the few that was homesick. The topic wasn’t discussed among my new friends at school; I figured that since nobody was talking about it, they didn’t feel that way. Home was just not on their minds. For the most part, I was right. My friends had felt homesickness, sure — but they had experienced it long ago and have already outgrown the feeling. They had felt it when abroad without their family, when attending faraway summer programs, and on friends-only vacations. I’d never been away from my family for longer than a week. Truthfully, that contrast made me feel a little better. I wasn’t overly sensitive — just inexperienced.

College had thrown me into the “homesick deep end.” I would admire the beautiful New Haven fall days, only to wonder how much more I would enjoy the weather back home. I hoped that I would soon stop yearning for New Jersey, and truly appreciate my new life at Yale.

Thankfully, I found friends pretty quickly at Yale. Between the home I found in entryway F of L-Dub and the connections I made during Bulldog Days, I had supportive friends by my side.  Still, my friends had so many experiences I couldn’t relate to. More and more, I found myself longing for the isolated bubble of my hometown, a place where I knew up from down. To clarify, I did not wish I was home — I loved Yale and did not want to miss a second of my time there. I just missed home: my personal space, my deck, my parents and the unbridled joy and ease of the previous summer. 

I am very happy at Yale, but it’s a different kind of happiness. It’s not a happiness that comes from comfort or stability or familiarity; it’s one that is born of new challenges and adventures. I realized that I love these unfamiliar life experiences — they’ve given me glimpses of the world beyond my hometown.

Beginning early in the year, my friends created a running list of all of the things I had never done. Some examples: taking an Uber, going to Urban Outfitters, eating a tomato. We would check them off as I did them. I loved this list and the satisfaction that came with checking off an item. They were quantifiable (and entertaining) benchmarks of my growth. I smile thinking about this list.

Not too long after the creation of the list, I got a cold: the real test of my growth. Not exactly the end of the world, but painful nevertheless.

The killer was that I had lost my voice. Yale Health had let me down for the first of many times that night; to get my voice back, they told me to drink water and stop talking. As an extroverted first-semester first year happily making friends, I was not thrilled with the treatment plan. When telling my mom about my illness, she asked if I wanted to come home for the weekend. New Jersey was two hours from Yale, and I should have jumped at the prospect of going home. I could get a good night’s sleep in my bed, have my dad make me French toast and chug Dayquil in peace.

Somehow, I never truly considered going home. It was only about a month into the school year. I was just starting to feel close to my friends and settling into a daily routine. And I didn’t want to be the girl that went to visit home so early in the year — for some reason, going home felt like quitting.

Yale Health sent me on my merry way. They left me to my own devices to cure my cold. I forced myself to stay at school and heal — the decision that simultaneously broke my psyche away from the feelings of being homesick. Had Yale Health been more helpful, I would not have been in the position to choose between Yale and home — and I wouldn’t have overcome my homesickness so early in the year.

Getting over homesickness was not some enjoyable or enlightening process. To be frank, it was rationale and determination that allowed me to enjoy Yale for all it was, when I stopped comparing it to the environment that I was used to. I got over being homesick when I realized that Yale is just as much my home as New Jersey is.

And since this past year was cut short for everyone, I have spent more time at home than I thought I would. I can’t say I don’t love being home; I have the personal space I craved (thanks social distancing), beautiful weather to enjoy on my deck, tons of quality time with my parents, and the potential for a great summer. But now, sitting at my kitchen table, I am homesick for Yale more than anything. Oh, how the tables have turned…


Hailey O’Connor |