Digital Diaries Season 3 Episode 1: Curing the Real Freshman Flu — Homesickness

Mika Ellison, Audio Editor



For the first episode of Digital Diaries this season, The Daily Northwestern spoke to students about how they deal with a prevalent phenomenon in college: homesickness. Listen to their strategies, which include Chinese takeout and Jimmy Buffet.

MIKA ELLISON: You’ve heard of the frat flu, also known as the freshman flu. It’s a cold-like malady specific to the uniquely viral atmosphere of college. But what about the classic illness that plagues up to 70% of college freshmen?


MIKA ELLISON: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Mika Ellison. This is Digital Diaries, a weekly podcast following the college experience and asking students a question about life at Northwestern. This week, we asked Northwestern students about homesickness and how they deal with the feeling.


MIKA ELLISON: Homesickness is supposed to hit when you’re a first-year, but it sometimes comes when you least expect it: a train ride

[train sound]

MIKA ELLISON: a quiet moment –

[cicada noise]

MIKA ELLISON: Or a simple gesture can leave you feeling nostalgic. Weinberg sophomore Katrina Peterson remembers the last time she got nostalgic for her home in the Pacific Northwest.

KATRINA PETERSON: The other week, I was stressed about finals. And then my mom texted me that she ordered me shampoo off of Amazon and I just started crying. So it’s the little things like that.

MIKA ELLISON: Weinberg sophomore Stephanie Kim, who is over a 21 hour flight away from her home of Singapore, finds herself missing home when the weather and transportation in Evanston get difficult.

STEPHANIE KIM: It’s warm tropical weather all year round. So whenever it’s winter, or cold or windy, I always miss home. Sometimes, I miss public transport. Because here, the transportation system is so bad. But in comparison, Singapore is like heaven— you can get anywhere in like, 20 minutes.

MIKA ELLISON: Even though Kim says that Singaporean food is in a short supply in Evanston, there are other options that she orders.

STEPHANIE KIM: I can never find good Singaporean food anywhere near here, but I’ll get Chinese takeout and stuff like that.


MIKA ELLISON: Unfortunately, homesickness doesn’t have an easy cure. While resting up is always a good idea, some students have other ways of combating a longing for home. Communication junior Frances McKittrick has a few remedies for homesickness.

FRANCES MCKITTRICK: My homesickness routine: Typically, I’ll try to talk to my parents if I can get hold of them. If I can’t, then I sort of wallow in self pity. But I’ll make Annie’s Mac and Cheese white shells because that’s what I ate when I was sad when I was growing up. And it’s very “home’ for me. If I’m in a building with a piano, I’ll sit down, play piano because I was a classical pianist from first grade to when I graduated high school. So I’ll sit down and just try to remember pieces that I used to play.

MIKA ELLISON: Like McKittrick, Peterson also turns to music when she feels down.

KATRINA PETERSON: I have this really cringey playlist on Spotify, that’s like Jimmy Buffett and Norah Jones and everything that I grew up on at home. And so that’s a good go-to to have nostalgia.


MIKA ELLISON: For a lot of students I talked to, homesickness isn’t necessarily about being in a particular place — it’s about missing a time in your life you might not be able to get back to. McKittrick describes it as the feeling of wishing you were a kid again without the pressures of being an adult.

FRANCES MCKITTRICK: It always happens when like, I got locked out of my apartment, and I had to call a locksmith. Especially this year, moving off campus, I’ve had a lot of moments where I’m like, “Oh, I’m a big kid now.” It sucks sometimes. That’s when I get homesick for the idea of being so without responsibilities.

MIKA ELLISON: Kim said that, for her, she’s felt more homesick her second year than she did her first.

STEPHANIE KIM: As the schoolwork gets harder, then you miss home a bit more. And you miss being babied by your parents a bit more.

MIKA ELLISON: Kim saw her hometown through new eyes when she brought college friends with her to Singapore over spring break.

STEPHANIE KIM: I had so much fun being a tour guide. And showing everybody like, see if when I say that I missed this home. This is what I mean. And they can have specific like images come to mind when I say that I want a specific food or anything like that. So that’s been fun.

MIKA ELLISON: Over time, Northwestern can become a second home for many students. McKittrick spent two summers in Evanston, and has found ways to appreciate the city for what it is, rather than the things it lacks.

FRANCES MCKITTRICK: To try to stop feeling homesick, I think it’s sort of redundant. What I more do is find ways to make myself feel cozy here. I also think part of that also comes from finding Evanston things that make me feel better.

MIKA ELLISON: Whether it’s the evergreen trees of Seattle or the parks of New York that you miss, ironically, the feeling of homesickness can unite college students, no matter if their home is twenty minutes or twenty hours away.

FRANCES MCKITTRICK: I don’t think homesickness gets fixed ever, at least for me, like I’m in a very different place from where I grew up. And even if I do stuff, I still know I’m in Evanston, Illinois, and I’m not in New York. And so it’s more that, like, I’m like teaching myself how to grow up.


MIKA ELLISON: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Mika Ellison. Thanks for listening to the first episode of Digital Diaries Season 3. This episode was reported and produced by me. The audio editor of The Daily Northwestern is myself, the digital managing editors are Erica Schmitt and Ava Mandoli, and the editor in chief is Alex Perry. Make sure to subscribe to The Daily Northwestern’s podcasts on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or SoundCloud to hear more episodes like this.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @MikaEllison23

Digital Diaries Season 2 Episode 9: To jet set or bed rest over spring break
Digital Diaries Season 2 Episode 8: Sleepy and sleepless nights with NU students
— Digital Diaries Season 2 Episode 7: The reality of having a roommate