Jasek: I Wish I Could Take my Parents to College

Elizabeth Jasek alongside her mom and dad. This week, senior Elizabeth Jasek discusses homesickness while away at college. - Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Jasek

A lesson that is not mentioned in college textbooks is how much you still need your parents while away at school. I didn’t realize this until a couple of months into my freshman year. I adjusted so well to Rowan’s environment and the college life, but there came a point midway through the semester when it hit me– homesickness. 

It’s a sickness that I’ve never experienced before. Although it’s common among freshmen, no one prepared me for it. I missed home so desperately. Yes, I missed the house itself, but more so my family, especially my mom and dad. 

By mid-October, I was extremely homesick. I noticed all my friends were receiving care packages from their parents, so I reached out to my mom.

“When do I get a care package?”

“Do you really need one?” my mom replied.

Every freshman needs one.

After sending me, the youngest of her three children that all attended Rowan, to school, my mom seemed to had given up on sending packages. But receiving a care package is a rite of passage for most freshmen.

Regardless, my package arrived a week later with everything I truly needed: facemasks, dark chocolate sun butter flower cups from Trader Joe’s, a handwritten note from mom and my stuffed animal Floppy. It was the best gift I could have received, and I noticed that my attitude toward calling home soon shifted as a result.

In those early months as a freshman, I went days, sometimes weeks, without giving my mom a call. I look back and realize not hearing from me must have upset her, even if it was a pointless conversation about how boring Comp class was. Now, I call my mom every day– or try to at least– in between classes or before bed. I need to hear from her just as much as she needs to hear from me.

I think college students often romanticize the idea of moving out and going away. Learning how to live on your own can be stressful and, honestly, quite tiresome. We have to learn how to not press snooze on our alarms because mom isn’t here to make sure we’ll make it to that 8 a.m. class. We have to plan our own breakfast, lunch and dinner instead of saying, “Mom, I’m hungry” and expecting a meal to be made.

But it’s okay to miss home, to not have your life align with what you thought it would be. Not all students have a smooth transition to college. 

I try to stay active and busy. Having something to look forward to every day helped me cope with my homesickness. Rowan has many great ways to meet others and get your mind off of the stressors of school and life away from home. Consider joining a club sport or taking advantage of the REC Center’s fitness classes like yoga or cycling. RAH offers movie nights on Tuesdays in the ballroom.   

As a senior, I’ve learned how important it is to not take moments with family for granted. I miss the days when my mom or dad would have to pick me up from college for holidays. Those car rides were quality time together – talking about family matters, boyfriend issues, upcoming plans with friends or jamming out to their old taste in music. Now I have a car on campus, and it wasn’t until I made the drive back to campus alone that I realized how fortunate I was to have my parents in times like these. 

During the first weekend I spent at home as a freshman, I thought of nothing more than a nice, home-cooked meal and clean laundry. But I quickly noticed that I took the little things — like my mom sewing closed a hole in my shirt or my dad killing spiders — for granted. 

While away at college, my relationship with my parents has grown and strengthened. The distance makes me miss them more. It makes me truly appreciate the time I spend with them at home, during the holidays, or on long car rides. 

Independence looks different for everyone. But you are never too old to need your parents or to miss home. 

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