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At 'I Want to Go Home' panel, students discuss homesickness

November 14, 2018
Information and pins at the kickoff event for ASMSU's Mental Health Awareness Week on Nov. 12, 2018.
Information and pins at the kickoff event for ASMSU's Mental Health Awareness Week on Nov. 12, 2018. —
Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

The Associated Students of Michigan State University, or ASMSU, began its Mental Health Awareness Week Nov. 10. One event in the week's event line-up was a panel held so students and panelists could discuss their struggles with homesickness. 

Project Lets at MSU, a new MSU group that aims to help students with mental health issues, held a student panel titled “I Want To Go Home” on Tuesday.

The panel featured five students who have experienced homesickness at MSU. They shared their stories, and participants could ask anonymous questions to speakers in the process.

Anthropology junior Christopher Reyes is the president of MSU Lets. He got the idea for the creation of the organization because he's dealt with homesickness before. 

Reyes said the panel was for freshmen or transfer students who are experiencing depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts. The panel's message was to tell students they are not alone.

“This homesick panel was the first time it ever happened,” Reyes said. “It's something that I think we will continue doing because it seems like a lot of people were interested.”

Anthropology junior Anna Tomlanovich, one of the panelists, was sexually abused as a child. She has experienced anxiety and depression. 

“I went through all the time, like stayed at home because I was too depressed to get up,” Tomlanovich said. “I wasn't eating, I wasn't sleeping. ... I couldn't even make it through the weeks, I had to go home every single weekend."

Tomlanovich used to think about committing suicide, but her older sister told her something that changed her life.

“Fake it till you make it,” Tomlanovich said. “That's all she said to me. And I was like 'That's great information.'”

After that point, Tomlanovich said she felt better. She still goes home often, but she started to make friends.

“I didn't join any clubs my freshman year, but then my sophomore year it was a complete 180 and I joined three or four clubs,” she said. “You just have to find your people. You have to find the people that understand and relate to you.”

Education sophomore Olivia Barbour, another panelist, said meaningful activities could improve dealing with homesickness.

“I swam for my whole life,” Barbour said. “I'm a swim coach now, and I want to be a teacher, so I work with the age of kids I want to teach and I volunteer in the morning.”

Barbour advised for students to try opening lines of communication that could be helpful, as well.

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