Minorities, women more likely to be homesick based on ISU study


By Logan Kahler, [email protected]

Josefina Avalos, sophomore in apparel, merchandising and design, is homesick and will transfer from Iowa State and return home to Osceola, Iowa.

Carolina Colon

According to a recent ISU study, minorities and women are more affected by homesickness in college than other groups of students.

Gender, minority status and parental education are some of the factors that have a significant impact on homesickness. Parents of students who have a lower degree of education tend to report a higher degree of homesickness, too, according to the study. 

One of the more popular questions asked is why students leave home and go so far away. There are many answers to that question, and Maria Larrazabal, a Venezuelan sophomore in psychology, said she came to Ames as “more a matter of circumstance and opportunity.”

Larrazabal expressed how difficult her first year in college was because of the distance from her home and family.

“My first semester here was pretty hard, I must admit,” she said. “After the initial excitement faded, and I realized I was not on summer vacation, I had to start coping with the fact that I was thousands of miles away from people I care deeply about. Luckily, I found myself surrounded by amazing people who were able to turn my frown upside down, and my experience has only gotten better as time has gone by.” 

Larrazabal said despite the distance, she is grateful for the personal growth that occurred due to her experiences far away from her home. 

“If I am completely honest, I never had the dream of going to college in the U.S.,” Larrazabal said. “However, I can firmly say that I do not regret it one bit. The distance makes everything hard from time to time, but it also makes room for personal growth and change, which is part of the reason why the whole experience feels worth the time.”

Abigail Saucedo, freshman in interdisciplinary studies from Texas, said students can overcome homesickness by getting involved and embracing all Iowa State has to offer.

“[My advice for homesick students is] to come with an open mind and to be open to new things by joining school clubs and making different types of friends not just with people who you find within your same race or culture,” she said.

The Multicultural Student Affairs in the Dean of Students Office supports those students who feel homesick and help them in their personal and academic development.

“We build a community, even if you’re 45 minutes away from home,” said Kenyatta Shamburger, the director of the Multicultural Student Affairs. “Leaving home gives you the opportunity to teach new lessons, independence, learning to challenge familiar surroundings and holidays become more important.”

Shamburger experienced homesickness many times in his life. He encouraged students to be who they are and meet new people.

“[The Multicultural Student Affairs office] is a place were students can come and be who they want to be,” Shamburger said. “I want them to be in a judgment-free zone where they can speak their first language. Nobody is going to fool them — our staff helps these students to navigate, and we can’t take the place of families, but it is a place I enjoy going to.”

Leaving home, family, friends and those memories that last a lifetime are what make it more difficult for minority students to deal with homesickness.

“The research [on homesickness] is very valid. It’s really important to get connected into student organizations, this gives students the opportunity to express their feelings on being homesick,” said Ebony Williams, program coordinator of the Multicultural Student Affairs office.