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September 13, 2021

Homesickness: The Effect on Schoolwork, Athletic Performance, and Social Life

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My number one rule when going through the college recruiting process was to be an hour and a half away from home tops. Well, that didn’t exactly work out for me. I ended up an hour and a half from home… by plane. 

I remember the exact moment that I started feeling homesick. It was a Wednesday morning the first week of classes freshman year, and all my roommates were gone. It was just me alone in my dorm room. I remember being so nauseous that I thought I was sick. I felt extremely empty and all I wanted to do was hug my dog. I face-timed both my parents, neither of them picked up because they were working, so I face-timed my brother. He didn’t pick up the phone either. I had a lump in my throat and the worst feeling of sadness. I thought when my roommates came back from class, I would feel much better. I was wrong. This feeling lasted the entire first semester of my freshman year.

The Effect on My Schoolwork

The constant feeling of wanting to go home was affecting my schoolwork the most. I was over halfway through the first semester when I had to calculate my current GPA for an assignment in one of my classes. I had an overall 0.4 GPA. I was on the verge of being ineligible. 

I remember being called into my coach’s office about my grades. I was so nervous. When she brought up my grades, I broke down crying, but I still couldn’t get myself to say out loud that I wanted to go home. Fortunately my coach is very supportive, so I left that meeting feeling a little better, but my grades were so far gone that I knew I needed to choke down my sadness and start focusing on school. I did end up getting my grades high enough to play.

Related: Athletes’ Tips on Balancing Your GPA and College Football

Admitting I Was Homesick

It wasn’t until winter break that I finally told my mom that I was homesick. Finally saying it out loud made a huge difference, and I am confident that if I had just spoken about it a little earlier, my first semester grades would have been a lot better.

Looking back, I was so lucky that I had such a strong support system because I ended up getting a tremendous amount of help. I could never have recovered my grades and eligibility without the help from my coaches and advisor.

The Effect on Social Life

Homesickness does not just affect your grades: my roommate, teammate, and close friend, Nicole, also had a tough time adjusting to the new lifestyle away from home. Nicole’s homesickness affected her social life. She was in a long-distance relationship at the time, so not only did she miss her family and friends, but her boyfriend as well. 

As the semester progressed, she started to barely go out with us at night and left early if she did. There would be nights that she got dressed up to come to hang out with us and then change her mind and go to bed instead. She would spend time with us during the day and when we went to practice, but the homesickness was dominating her social life.

Nicole was a little more vocal about her homesickness; I knew that she was sad and missed her family. Another thing I noticed is that she would nap anytime she didn’t have class. I remember looking up the effects of homesickness and one of them was abnormal sleep patterns, so the naps made sense.

Related: Social Factors You Need to Consider When Picking a College

The Effect on Athletic Performance

Lastly, homesickness can affect your athletic performance. Since it can give you abnormal sleep patterns, you could be tired at practice or tired for a game. I learned it can also make you feel overwhelmed or panicked (I felt overwhelmed with my schoolwork) and can have an effect on how you feel about your sport. 

Related: What to Expect as an International College Athlete

If you ever feel homesick just know you’re not the only one! It may be your first time truly away from home and that takes time to adjust to.

YOUR JOURNEY STARTS HERE