Homesickness among students in two cultures: Antecedents and consequences

Authors


Department of Clinical Psychology, Utrecht University, PO Box 80140, 3508 TC, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Abstract

Review of the theoretical and empirical literature on homesickness showed that despite recent advances, scientific understanding of the impact on students of leaving home for college is still limited. Furtherempirical investigation using standardized measures, structural equation models and including additional mediating/moderating variables is needed. Two studies were thus conducted, one in the Netherlands, and one in the UK. Homesickness was investigated among recent-intake students, using a newly developed instrument, the Utrecht Homesickness Scale. Variables investigated in relationship to homesickness included depression, personality factors (self-liking, competence, self-esteem) and family situation (attachment to family). Homesickness was found to be a common though differentially prevalent phenomenon (approximately 50% in the Netherlands; 80% in the UK). Structural equation models showed that students missed family and friends and had difficulties adjusting to college life. These difficulties were associated with ruminations about home and loneliness, which themselves were associated with depression. There were differences in intensity (UK students were more homesick) and there were gender differences (UK females experienced more homesickness). Both the personality and family situation factors had an impact on homesickness. The results supported the conceptualization of homesickness as a ‘mini-grief’, to be viewed from theoretical perspectives in the field of loss and bereavement.

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