Homesick students at UNCA find solutions to help cope

Alisha Bradshaw, 19-year-old student from UNCA, transferred to UNC Pembroke

Tristan Lashea
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UNC Asheville tries to help homesick students feel happy by giving resources and advice, but some students say they are more comfortable with transferring or dropping out.
“I am happier because I am home but Asheville was me. I miss the people and the city. I think it would help if I had my car that way I could go home when I felt like– freshman should be allowed to have cars on campus,” says Alisha Bradshaw, a 19-year-old from Fayetteville. 
Bradshaw started UNCA in fall 2018 but after fall break she decided to drop out. She now goes to UNC Pembroke.
“I stopped going to classes, stopped doing homework because I knew I was going to be transferring. So there was no point. I was just crying in bed all the time,” Bradshaw said.
Freshman year is the hardest adjustment time period. Many freshmen get homesick and end up transferring to a school that suits them better, she says. 
“I think it’s important for people who are homesick to really think about it and to realize it’s not as bad as you think. I regret leaving so soon. I feel like if I would stay and stuck it out, I would be happier at UNCA,” Bradshaw said. 
Students thinking of transferring or dropping out have to go through the Academic Success Center to discuss the decision and the next steps. 
I went to the Academic Success Center and I just started crying, she was really sweet and handed me some tissue. She told me options like, I could finish my semester and then transfer, withdrawal and also talk to my friends and family about my options. She told me she understood that Asheville is far away and it happens a lot,” Bradshaw said.  
I notice it in people who are here from further away, whether it’s their first semester, they might be a transfer student or first-year students, especially that first semester. Everything’s great and new and exciting. And then all of a sudden like you realize, ‘Oh my gosh, this is different. I am on my own,’” Rizleris said.  
Academic student advisor’s in the success center say they try to help students who are homesick by talking to them, suggesting ways to help to make sure they are comfortable.
“If we can talk to students earlier and try to be like, ‘Do you know about this club or these things happening here in Asheville?’ connecting to the community,” Rizleris said. 
Academic student advisors help students who are failing or not going to class. They help students in figuring out what is going on and the next step.
“I think it’s OK to be homesick. It’s OK to reach out. It’s OK to get some support and you know, our office is always open for people to vent. Like, you don’t have to go to the Health and Counseling Center if you don’t want to. If you just need to vent, my office is open,” Rizleris said.
Residential assistants are a crucial part of making student residents on campus feel welcome and comfortable. 
“It’s pretty common for residents to feel homesick, everyone expresses it differently so I try to connect residents to other communities. Many people who express feeling homesick, report that they feel isolated or lonely. I do think that being homesick does play a significant factor in people’s decisions for transferring,” said Johanna Ayala, an RA. in South Ridge.
Despite not being trained for homesick residents, RAs are trained in making the residents more comfortable and welcome in this new place.
“Transitioning from one environment is never easy, so as an RA, I do my best to connect residents to different activities and groups to help ease their transition. I try to connect my residents to others with similar interests and simply getting them out and about around campus with intramural activities, going to REC classes and other activities,” Ayala said.
Living on campus can be difficult with no car or access to transportation to go home especially if out of state or country, according to C. Rizleris. 
“I would say that a little bit more than a handful of people that I know have transferred. All for different reasons, they all transferred mostly in the hopes of looking for a better fit whether that means academically or otherwise,” Ayala said.