Today we’re launching Freshmen 15, a year-long blog series that will explore topics traditional undergraduate students often face during their first year of college. Trevecca students, faculty and staff members will weigh in over the course of the academic year as we examine loneliness, living with roommates, time management and more.
Loneliness, fitting in and homesickness. They’re three of the many concerns that may feel a bit overwhelming to incoming freshmen. Abigail Nesbitt, an intern at the Trevecca Counseling Center, and Bonnie Johnson, Trevecca sophomore and social work major, provide insight and advice on these concerns.
“At the beginning of my first semester, I felt a little lonely, but the New Student Orientation activities kept me busy,” Johnson said. “The beginning of the second semester was more difficult because I felt as though I was starting over and having to find my rhythm again.”
According to Nesbitt, being in a new place or a new environment can cause people to feel out of place or lonely. She said it is especially hard for students who don’t spend a lot of time away of from their families.
“We naturally tend to find comfort in familiar things, so the novelty of the college atmosphere may morph into homesickness,” Nesbitt said. “Everyone has their own views on what the college experience should look like. When at times it inevitably does not look picture perfect, a panic arises, and it is easy to feel that we are not doing this thing the ‘right’ way or that we are not a part of the puzzle.”
Nesbitt’s advice to incoming freshman is to take advantage of resources. She encourages students to join or form a group with students who have similar interests. Taking advantage of Nashville scenery is also a good idea, she said. Along with counseling, LINK groups can be helpful in combatting loneliness.
Incoming freshman are required to participate in LINK groups, which is something that Johnson said helped her. Other things that helped her was support from RAs (resident assistants) events, clubs and counseling.
“LINK was one of the greatest helps for me to become comfortable at Trevecca,” Johnson said. “It connected me with a group of people right off the bat. When I knew some people’s names and faces, and I had people I could talk to and sit with in class or at the cafeteria, I felt much more comfortable and less lonely.”
Some of the other struggles that Johnson dealt with was constantly comparing herself to others. She wondered if people liked her, if she was accomplishing enough, and if she was as popular or as talented as her peers. Having support from RAs and her faith helped Johnson ease her thoughts and learn to relax.
“When I compare myself to other people, I must remember that all of us have the same value. We are children of God, saved by God’s grace,” Johnson said. “For me, knowing where my value comes from helps me to stop worrying about whether I fit in. I try to remember that I don’t have to earn my value, and that helps me to relax and allow friendships to happen naturally.”
When she’s feeling homesick, Johnson usually calls a friend or a family member. She said sometimes simply listening to her siblings talk about their day would take her mind off things. Other times she listens to her mom’s advice, which is that it takes times for students to make friends their freshmen year.
Johnson’s advice to incoming freshmen is simple: don’t be afraid to tell others how you feel.
“Other people may be feeling the same thing, or they may have felt that way in the past, and they can give you advice for how to get through it,” Johnson said.