Rant & Rave

By Maura Shannon

Tuesday, December 3, 1996

New friends
help cure the homesick

IT was Sept. 6 when I first arrived at Florida Southern College. After graduating from St. Francis School, I came to this school in hopes of becoming a journalist, but more importantly, I came in hopes of learning to be independent.

When I arrived that sunny day in September, I had convinced myself that I would be fine.

Homesick? Absolutely not possible. I have never been homesick.

I learned from this experience never to say "never." I was not exempt from the feelings of emptiness, loneliness and, most of all, abandonment. My first thought was how am I going to survive a week here; worse, how am I going to survive four years?

During the first week the nights were when my homesickness was the worst. I cried every night. I called everybody in Hawaii I knew every day. I was so lonely that I would cry myself to sleep every night. It was really bad. Some days I even thought about packing everything up and returning home.

But it wasn't long before my inner strength took over. All of these feelings were rushing through my head while I was trying to adjust to a new environment, make new friends and concentrate on school.

Even after being here for almost six weeks, I still ached for the "Aloha Spirit." I was still staring at the ceilings in the middle of the night, wondering what everyone at home was doing. I wished that I could be there for them. I kept remembering and missing giving my dad a hug before he left for work, attending my brother's soccer games and spending time with my mom.

The two things that kept me from taking the next plane home are the friendships I have made, and my goal of being a journalist. These two powerful forces gave me the strength to conquer college life.

PARENTS need to be aware of how hard it is for an 18-year-old to leave everything that is considered home to them.

The support of my parents helped me a great deal in the first week. My mother spent a lot of time on the phone with me and my father always gave me the option of returning home if the homesickness did not pass. I'm glad I stuck it out because I am now happy here.

College is not all bad; it is just very different. College life takes a lot of getting used to. I, along with other students here, have good and bad days. The good days usually outnumber the bad days.

Going out and making new friends is the ultimate in ridding oneself of the homesickness blues. The advantage of being from Hawaii is that we are raised with a multicultural heritage that teaches us respect for and getting along with others. Respect for one another is important in a dorm situation.

I have made friends from all around the world that I'm sure will last a lifetime. We all help each other through the problems that arise from being away from home. I feel we are all becoming one big family.

Now I feel convinced that I can make it here for the four years it will take to earn my degree. Everything is falling into place. One of my new friends and I have already made plans to dorm together next year.

I have become an active member of the school newspaper and I am talking to one of my teachers here about Florida Southern starting its own speech team. These activities have kept my mind off the things that I am missing out on at home.

I strongly encourage high school students to think hard before going away for further education. It takes a lot of adjustment, strength and endurance.

I'm glad I did it, but I know a lot of my high school classmates did not even make it through the first week of attending a mainland college or university. They have already returned home.

Maura Shannon says she gets the biggest laughs
introducing mainlanders to “local” foods.

Rant & Rave is a Tuesday Star-Bulletin feature allowing teens and young adults to serve up fresh perspective. Guys and girls speak up by fax at 523-8509; by answering machine at 525-8666; snail mail at P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, HI 96802; or e-mail, features@starbulletin.com

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