If you Google “moving away from home” the first few hundred search results will include the words “why you should move away” or “10 reasons to move away from home,” but none of these include the reasons why nearly 55 percent of young adults have difficulties making the transition from their hometown “bubble” to the unknown realms of the college campus.
According to a study done at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2011, only 14 percent of college students attend college five-hundred or more miles away. Some of the factors that go into these statistics correlate with the amount of money it costs to live further away from home; families tend to spend 5 percent less on college expenses when their child commutes from home.
Other factors are less financial and more psychological; one study done by a clinical psychologist at the University of Alabama showed that one out of ten college students have such bad anxiety and symptoms of depression when they move away from home that they seek therapy.
For some students, seeking therapy isn’t enough. “About the first week of move in, before the school semester had even started, a first-time freshmen resident was experiencing major anxiety about being at college and in a dorm environment and moved back home,” said SF State student and resident assistant Kandice Niziurski.
The twenty-one-year-old also felt symptoms of mental distress come within the second and third month of being away from home. “Once I got here, the first month was kind of a haze, but the second month it began settling in that I was really on my own and I had my first real encounter with what depression is.”
In the journal of American Academy of Pediatrics, homesickness is defined as “distress and functional impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home and attachment objects such as parents.”
For eighteen-year-old Kylie Johnson, the move from Temecula to San Francisco didn’t only detach her from the comfort of her parents, but from the once inseparable bound between her twin sister and her.
Even with the downsides of moving hundreds of miles away from home, a large majority of college students found the silver lining in this transition point of their lives.
For Niziurski, it was the engagement of extracurricular activities and a workout schedule that helped her bounce back and create a stable and healthy lifestyle for herself in the Fog City.
“If I had to do it again, I would do it in a heartbeat because I always wanted to move away from home and this gave me the opportunity to do that and learn about myself through the transition,” says Niziruski.
For other students, moving away from home was their escape. “I needed to get away from the L.A. scene back home and I love how people here are much more open-minded,” says English literature major Audry Struthers.
Another key factor in students flying the coop is the yearning to become independent. “I was way too dependent on my parents and family back in Southern California, so I needed to escape that and learn what it’s really like to be on my own,” says SF State student Rebecca Vasquez.
Some of those responsibilities for students include learning to cook, clean, and take care of themselves for the first time in their life.
“One of the negatives of this experience has been having to do everything on my own and balancing school work, but it has been a good life lesson so far,” says Struthers.
For a majority of students, with the new zip code comes a new, fresh identity, with no strings attached. “I have really been put out of my comfort zone – I was really shy and introverted back home and I feel like in San Francisco I can explore my true self and blossom into a more outgoing person,” says Vasquez.