Geographical relocation is often associated with problems adjusting to the new physical and sociocultural environment (Totman, 1979) and with the stress of disruption to lifestyle routines (Cochrane, 1983; Cochrane & Stopes-Roe, 1980). Relocation commonly entails culture shock, financial difficulties, separation from family, racial discrimination, and language difficulties (Murphy, 1977; Oberg, 1960); frequent relocation is also associated with illness (Stokols, Shumaker, & Martinez, 1983).
One group of people who tend to relocate relatively frequently consists of students, many of whom do report difficulties attributed to relocation (Anderson & Fleming, 1985; Fulmer, Medalie, & Lord, 1982; Simmonds, 1987). Their problems appear to be common to those of migrants in general (Cochrane, 1983; Cochrane & Stopes-Roe, 1980). One very frequent complaint is the familiar one of homesickness.
Homesickness is commonly used to describe any condition of unhappiness or malaise which follows a transition to a new environment (Fisher, 1988). Denoted as “pining for home” (Chambers Dictionary, 1972) or “depressed by absence from home” (Concise Oxford Dictionary, 1964), students reportedly agree that homesickness has four main elements: missing home, missing family, longing to see friends, and wanting to go home (Brewin, Furnham, & Howes, 1989).
Recent studies conducted in Scotland found that homesickness affected 60 to 70 percent of native first-year students (Fisher, Fraser, & Murray, 1984; Fisher, Fraser, & Murray, 1985), a figure which approximates that found for boarding school students (Fisher, Fraser, & Murray, 1986). Homesickness was associated with cognitive failures, poor concentration, handing in work late, and decrement of work quality (Fisher et al., 1985; Fisher & Hood, 1987). In other words, there was some evidence that homesickness may affect academic performance.