By Guest Blogger: Alden Claire Knight
Something I’ve noticed at DePaul is that I always get mixed reactions when I tell people where I’m from. Generally, the consensus seems to be that people react with mild surprise. Others react loudly. Some don’t care. I mentioned previously that I was from North Carolina. I also mentioned that I disliked it.
North Carolina isn’t the most shocking place to come from. I’m picking up on the “what-an-anticlimactic-place-to-live” vibes I’m sure you’re experiencing right now.
Something you need to note: North Carolina is pretty far away. 2 and a half hours by plane; 12 and a half hours by car; 76 hours by bike; 249 hours by foot (not that I’d ever do the latter two). I can’t take the next Metra ride home or pack my overnight bag into my mom’s car. What I’m getting at here is this: when I’m homesick, it’s pretty tough.
No, I’m not saying I regret my decision to come to Chicago. In fact, I’ve frequently thought about what a great fit it is. But everyone longs for home sometimes. You can’t deny that sometimes you just want to snuggle up on your couch (in my case, with my dog) and watch your favorite movie. You wouldn’t decline the opportunity to get pampered by your mom or veg out with some high school friends. Maybe even visit your favorite childhood park or walk that trail behind your house that you loved when you were little.
I’ve recently discovered that what seems like well over half of the student population at DePaul are from the suburbs (or aptly, “the ‘burbs”). When asked on the first day of class where they’re from, classmates of mine will usually name a suburb and then either mention its distance from the city or its directional location in the state. Most in-staters nod in agreement, mentally adding another suburb to what seems like a never-ending suburban list. Nearly all of the friends I’ve made go home most weekends. This stifling tidbit of information hadn’t even crossed my mind until a friend of mine approached me a couple of weeks ago asking if I had gotten homesick at all this quarter. The reason she asked was because I was the only other person she knew who had come to DePaul from a state farther than five “driving hours” away.
Truthfully, my longing for home was far more difficult this quarter than last. I found myself feeling lonelier than ever when I came back from winter break and I noted that my calls home had practically doubled. It could’ve been a seasonal thing, or really just an “adjustment to college” thing, but I think it was my recognition that almost everyone I know here has the capability to go home whenever they feel like it. Friends of mine will mention how excited they are to go home for dinner and get a home cooked meal, or they’ll express their need for a haircut from their hairdresser whose known them for eight years. I realized then that I was jealous. Jealous because if I need a haircut, I have to go find someone I’ve never met. Or if I want a home cooked meal, I’d have to find a restaurant that specialized in that kind of thing. Of course, it’s not my friends’ fault in the end. They can’t control where they’re from. If you had the option of going home whenever you felt like it, who could blame you.
I realize looking back on this now, homesickness comes and goes in waves. Sometimes I want to spontaneously purchase a plane ticket and take the next flight home, but other times I’m super happy that I’m not in North Carolina anymore. It’s totally normal to feel this way, especially when you’re really far from home base.
During a rough patch when my longing for home was nearly unbearable, I made a list of things I could do to make myself feel better. I’ve tested some of these tricks, and most of them seem to work. Recently, for example, my mom and I have been watching our favorite shows together while simultaneously reacting via phone call.
Another item on the list included getting out of the dorm and seeing friends to take your mind off things. If friends aren’t available, take a walk around Lincoln Park (dependent on weather). We’re fortunate to be in a really beautiful part of Chicago. Exercising helps for some, and I know looking at old photos can bring back some great nostalgic memories. Compiling a care package for a loved one or friend from back home helped me a lot as well (I know I’m not the world’s best “feel good guru”, but these things worked for me).
My favorite, though, was to make a playlist of songs to unwind with. I’ve included one that I put together at the end of this post for you DePaulians who might be going through the same thing. Just remember, being homesick is totally normal. It’s going to get better. Enjoy…
Chicken Soup for the Homesick Soul:
Big Jet Plane – Angus & Julia Stone
Hero – Family of the Year
Piledriver waltz – Alex Turner
Seaside – The Kooks
The Commuter – Jeremy Messersmith
April Come She Will – Simon & Garfunkel
Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want – The Smiths
Take Care – Beach House
Blue Skies – Albert Hammond, Jr.
17 – Youth Lagoon
…Alden Claire Knight is currently an undeclared Communication major however, intends to pursue a degree in Communication and Media Studies field with a concentration in Radio, Television and New Media! Alden also enjoys any film by Wes Anderson, with her favorite being Moonrise Kingdom!