September 18, 2020, by Shweta
Coping with Homesickness – An International Student’s Perspective
When COVID-19 first made its appearance, students were asked to return to their permanent addresses for the foreseeable future. For international students, like myself, this meant flying across the world to cities we had left years ago. Now, rounding out my 5th month back home, I realise that this is the longest I have spent back in my parents’ house since I left in 2016. With that, came hours of reflection on the life I had left behind to chase the life I have now. After all these years, the thought of going back to university still leaves me feeling uncharacteristically forlorn; homesickness is a truly unavoidable reality. But what if I told you that there were ways to combat it? Here’s some advice, straight from the horse’s mouth.
Get into a routine
Moving to university comes with its fair share of uncertainty and inconsistently. This is only exaggerated in your first few weeks. Getting into a routine can bring about some necessary structure and calm into your day, giving you something to look forward to. For me, this was going for a walk during sunset whilst listening to some good music. It got me out and active and kept me physically and mentally stimulated.
Connect with your culture
Some of the most heart-warming moments you will have is discussing your hometown and native culture with students from different backgrounds. It’s been 4 years and it still makes me so happy when someone asks about Indian or Arab culture; trust me, it’s one of the best feelings in the world. You can connect with your culture by joining relevant societies, meeting people from the same part of the world as you and celebrating your holidays.
Remind yourself WHY you came to university in the UK
Some days will be harder than others and that’s just a fact of life. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to turn them around. From vision boards to journaling, find ways to remind yourself of your goals. Talk to your parents or give yourself a pep talk in the mirror. There’s a reason why you’ve crossed the ocean and the drive you derive from it will propel you incredibly far. Remember, discomfort is a necessary part of growth.
Make a conscious effort to keep in touch
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day happenings of university life. But part of your journey is the places you have come from and the people you have known. Don’t forget to make conscious and consistent efforts to connect with people back home. From setting virtual dates to sending memes on a WhatsApp group, use social media to your advantage. Hearing from them will also make you feel much better!
Intertwine creature comforts with your new life
Creature comforts are akin to a baby’s favourite blanket; they’re things that make you feel safe and secure. Find ways to inculcate these into your new life at university. Whether it’s learning to cook your family’s signature recipe or setting aside time for a Sunday ritual you practiced at home, creature comforts will bring home closer to you.
Appreciate the little things
From newfound freedom to learning creative ways to be more independent, moving away from home will bring many sought-after changes. Look for these – chase them, if you must – and embrace them. Remind yourself that these are some of the positives of having moved away from home. Crossing the oceans yourself is a mammoth task and one that will only change your life for the better! A positive outlook can beat those initial bedtime blues.
Whether it’s your bed or your momma that you miss, homesickness is a humbling part of your journey into higher education. But if there’s one thing to be grateful for, it’s that soon, you will have two places to call home. And that will make you the luckiest person in the world!
Until next time,