Lana Altunashvili ’27 is a prospective biology major. She is a James Monroe Scholar and a member of Club Tennis. Contact her at email@example.com.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.
Homesickness: a feeling familiar to most if not all students here at the College of William and Mary. Whether you are an international, out-of-state or in-state student, we all face this feeling at one point or another during the college experience. You must leave the comfort of your homes and put yourself out there, heeding the universe’s call to independent adulthood.
I think we are all usually eager to leave the place we grew up in, see new places and explore new versions of ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, I still stand by the idea that leaving home is a necessary experience in the modern world, but I’ve also come to the conclusion that the phrase “you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone” is the most true statement I’ve heard in a while. The seeming liberty you feel when you leave your home turns into the sharp lack of something you can’t really pinpoint. So how do we appreciate the place we are from? How do we deal with this feeling of wanting to go back when we are struggling to adjust to being away from what we are used to?
For context and some perspective, I’m from Georgia (the country, not the state), which is situated under Russia, east of the Black Sea. Like any other country, it has its issues, whether they be socioeconomic, political or of some other kind. These issues are mostly why I had always thought my life would be better when I left the capital of Tbilisi, where I have lived for 18 years. In spite of being told I would miss it when I left, I let those words pass right through me, thinking “they don’t know just how much I want to leave.”
Now though, I find myself reaching for pieces of home everywhere. So my first piece of advice is the following: listen to music from your home or something that reminds you of where you came from. For example, I notice my American friends listening to country music because it makes them think of home. For me, it’s the Georgian band Mgzavrebi that makes me feel like I’m traveling in time and about to see my friends, most of whom are scattered across the globe. There is something about music that seems to connect not only varied groups of people, but also the past and the present, creating a calming sensation that reminds you that everything you miss is still within reach.
Another thing I’ve found helpful is listening to interviews of people who also moved away from their home. It doesn’t necessarily make you feel closer to home, but it can make you feel less alone in what you are feeling. In this case, I think listening to someone who’s gone through a similar experience is beneficial in that it gives you some perspective on where you are in life. Oftentimes, we get lost in the little details of everyday life and lose sight of why we left home. But seeing people who started out the same way you did find success makes you think you’re on the right path — that wherever you are in the current moment is for a greater purpose, and you’re just too stressed and tired to see that right now.
This next one is a vague piece of advice, but I will recommend you live in the future to some extent. I know everyone says you have to “live in the moment,” but I feel like whenever you separate yourself from the things, places and people you love, you look forward to something. Every time I’m with friends, I make some plans for the future no matter how unlikely they are to happen. I want to see someone who’s on the other side of the world? I guess I’m going there at some point next summer.
Another thing you can do is count down the days until you can return home, and take each day at a time. At the time of writing this article, I know that despite there being around 50 days left until Christmas day, there’s only 18 school days left in the semester. Some may find this fact frightening, but it’s comforting to know that we’ve got so little left until we get to go back to our families and childhood friends. During my senior year of high school, I had a countdown on my phone to the last day of school. I won’t lie, at first the rate at which the days went by seemed painfully slow. However, trust me, the numbers will go down to zero in a blink of an eye, and then the wait for the last day of classes, going home and seeing your family and friends will be over.
As of right now, Earl Gregg Swem Library is filled with stressed students. This is a time when most of us feel like we can’t do it anymore, when we long for the comfort of home, when we are trying to make it to the next day off. I suppose my last piece of advice is to hang in there because time has a way of accommodating when you have a lot on your plate — it goes by quickly. So, truly, all you have to do is keep reminding yourself that you are really almost there. Just one final push to the finish line, and you’ll be on your way back to whatever place you call home.