It’s 8 a.m. in Texas and 9 p.m. in China. On one side of the world, people are getting ready to go to bed. On the other side, they are just getting the day started.
Even though UTA is 13 hours behind, Jie Hua's mind is back home in China, thinking of his girlfriend there.
“Sometimes she needs a hug or a kiss,” the aerospace engineering graduate student said. “You cannot give it to her.”
Just like Hua, students find ways to cope with their homesickness while they are at school.
After a frustrating process getting situated, Hua started adapting to his new life on campus. He said he struggled a lot at the beginning and had a difficult time understanding the professors.
“I wanted to go home,” he said. “When I come here, I know nothing.”
While going off to college can be exciting, being away from familiar people and surroundings can lead to homesickness, particularly among international students whose first language wasn’t English and don’t know anyone on campus, Hua said.
On top of being far away from his country, Hua said the hardest part for him was not leaving his family, but his girlfriend of one year. Because travel is expensive, Hua said he can see his girlfriend only twice a year.
He said maintaining a long-distance relationship has been hard on him, because they can’t express physical affection, but he still finds ways to communicate with her.
“I need to wake up at 8 every day, no matter if I have class or not, because that time in China is about 9 p.m.,” Hua said.
For broadcast sophomore Justin Hidalgo, moving from a small town to come to UTA was a big shock. He said he was scared and nervous when he first moved to college. Having the comfort of his mom and the slow pace of a small town are some of things he misses the most.
“It was kind of crazy being among so many different people on a huge campus,” he said. “You learn as you go, and you kind of pick up on how to handle things.”
The thought of being lonely and not having any friends can be scary for some students. Some ways students can make their transitions to college better is getting involved in one of the organizations around campus, Hidalgo said.
“It gets better, for sure, even though you feel like you are going to be alone all of college, or that you’re not going to make any friends, because I was definitely there,” Hidalgo said. “It may be rough in the beginning, but just stick through it.”
For Aaron Diaz, an orientation leader and film sophomore, leaving his home in El Paso to go to college was bittersweet.
“Part of me was happy to be away from home, but part of me was also sad,” he said.
As an orientation leader, Diaz understands what students may go through when they are new to campus because he went through the same process.
There are ways to combat loneliness, he said.
He recommends students who are experiencing homesickness take advantage of the resources that the Counseling and Psychological Services office offers, such as individual, couple and group therapy sessions.
The office is intended to provide personal services to help students achieve their academic goals and increase understanding of health, mental and behavioral issues. Students can make an appointment with an adviser who will help them start making positive changes in their lives.
“I decided to go to CAPS, and they really helped me talk about my homesickness and my problems and my depression and anxiety,” Diaz said.
Diaz also encourages students to speak up and seek help if they need it, because UTA has the resources to assist students.
“They didn’t baby me too much, but they didn’t push me too hard. It was just the right amount for me,” he said.
According to Diaz, the office helped him to open up about his problems and encouraged him to go out and meet new people. Now, he has great friends and feels happier living on campus.
“There is still a part of me that misses home, and I will always miss home, but at the end of the day, it’s what is best for me and I’m happy that I got to come out here.”