UNL freshmen experience change


Freshman Mackenzie Wiley looks down upon the Lincoln downtown a few days after arriving at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Story and Photo by Patrick Breen

Mackenzie Wylie kicked her parents out of her dorm room at noon on her University of Nebraska-Lincoln move in day.

“They were devastated,” she said. “They cried.”

But Wylie, a freshman journalism major, showed little emotion saying “I was just ready for college. I was sad for a second, then I moved on.”

Despite walking in to a relatively unknown situation, Wylie, an 18-year-old Kansas native, just wanted college to start. And with the growing use of technology, students are finding it easier to move away with less pain of missing their parents.

Cutting the umbilical cord and going to college used to mean severing ties with your parents for months at a time. But with a generation that has become notoriously well-known for its cordless technology, staying in contact has eased the burden on students and parents separating.

“I told them I wasn’t going to be home for Thanksgiving,” Wylie said, “but I do talk to my mom every day.”

From text messages to e-mails, parents are never more than a few clicks away, and that makes it easier for students to not miss their parents.

“It’s nice to be able to just send a text to say how I’m doing,” freshman Matthew Masin said.

Masin said he didn’t think to much about his parents leaving because he knew he could still talk to them anytime.

Still, first year graduate psychology student Lixin Ren said that being away from your parents changes nearly everything. Ren, who specializes in parent-child relationships, said that leaving a family member, whether a parent leaving a student, or a student leaving a parent, cause the whole social situation to change.

Parents often feel as if their child is gone forever, she said. They express emotion more openly and often feel more anxiety than the child.

“It’s tough for them,” Ren said. “I know my parents miss me.”

But going to college brings about some common fears for students, too. When Wylie moved into her dorm she said she didn’t know many people and sometimes felt lonely.

Ren said this feeling was common for students and said that anytime a person switches into a new situation, fear and isolation can cause stress.

“They had their parents always at home,” she said. “Not now.”

The stability of having parents at home allowed for the children to become accustomed to them being there, and transition time must be allowed in college.

Despite the boom in technology, other fears exist.

“I remember (three years ago) not knowing where anything was the first week and thinking the campus was huge,” senior arts and graphic design major Breana Huff said.

Some freshmen leave boyfriends and girlfriends back home. Whether they are still in high school or have gone to different colleges themselves, the separation from those close friendships is difficult.

Wylie left her boyfriend of a year and a half, back in Kansas. She said it was tough not having him around. But Wylie said that the technology like texting, Facebooking and calls has made it easier for the two.

Forging new relationships and friendships takes time in college, Ren said, and it is even tougher for students of different backgrounds. Students like herself, studying abroad have grown up differently, like herself she said.

“People have different childhoods, education, (and) backgrounds,” Ren said.

Ren graduated from The Chinese University of Hong Kong and is getting her doctorate in psychology at UNL. She has been in Lincoln for just over two months.

“It’s hard (to) be isolated,” she said. “(But it) gets better and better everyday. Students do activities and come together.”

Masin said he didn’t have many fears about coming to college, but definitely has noticed the change.

“It just feels different,” he said. “I can’t describe it.”

Huff said she remembered the feeling and that, with time, college just becomes the norm. She said the freshmen will be “so engulfed by classes that they won’t have time to miss their parents.”

Ren said that the cure to homesickness and loneliness could be cured easily and without medicine.

“It just takes time,” she said. “It will get much better.”

And now that the first few weeks of college have passed for UNL’s 6,785 freshmen, the normality of going home to their dorms is becoming more routine.

“It’s starting to feel like home,” Masin said. “I no longer need a map.”

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