People don’t often talk about how difficult it can be to come back to Amherst after a semester abroad. When they do, they mention it briefly and vaguely and it doesn’t sound like anything you can’t handle. “It’s an adjustment,” they say. Well, coming back in January after spending the fall semester in Paris was much more difficult adjustment than I anticipated.
My social life had changed – I no longer lived in Marsh, I had drifted apart from friends who were once close, and my senior friends were buried in their theses. I started feeling lonely and sad in ways I had never experienced. I fell back into an unstable relationship, made even unhealthier by my newfound sense of isolation.
A friend suggested that I go to the Counseling Center, noting that I had suggested the same thing to them after they returned from a fall abroad, and it had helped. Initially, I wasn’t into the idea. Maybe it’s hypocritical, but the stigma around getting help for mental health problems is real and pervasive. I worried that actually getting help would somehow turn my problems from feelings I could blow off as a passing phase (“I’m just crazy now”) into, like, real issues.
I slept on it, and woke up the next morning with perfect clarity. Seeing someone at the Counseling Center would mean someone would be paid to listen to me talk about myself. They would have to ask insightful questions and even take notes! As someone who loves talking about herself more than anything, this got me hyped up, and I made my first appointment.
A couple months later, and I can say with total certainty and enthusiasm that I love the Counseling Center. The staff is friendly, kind, and accommodating. I would encourage anyone who even wonders if they should make an appointment to take advantage of the Counseling Center as a resource available to students.
Amherst is such a small community, and it can be nice to talk about your interpersonal issues to someone who isn’t going to mention it to the person you have the issue with. And the staff really seems to care about our wellbeing. It’s nice, in a culture where everyone is so busy with their own work, to talk to someone whose work is to ask how you’ve been taking care of yourself lately.
The Amherst College Counseling Center is located at Scott House, at 14 Hitchcock Rd. (across from the gym). You can call their main number, 413-542-2354, to schedule an appointment, or drop by between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. In addition, they host Let’s Talk drop-in hours in Keefe Campus Center from 2:30-4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.