Have you ever felt homesick before? 99% of you have whether you can remember or not! Almost everyone has experienced that dreaded feeling of missing mommy and daddy along with materialistic things you own whether you were a tot in preschool or spending the first night away from home at a friend’s sleepover.
The difference now is that you’re all grown up! As with everything else, life decisions hold a lot more weight and also, a bigger amount of sacrifice, just like going to college. No longer are you in school for just a few hours before you return safely to your mother’s arms, you’re living in a dorm with a couple people you’ve never met before and can only return on the holidays.
For international students, the severity of homesickness can be much higher since you’re not just a car ride away from your family but a long flight away. If you thing you’re one of those people who are touch and immune to the feeling of homesickness, guess what? You’re wrong!
You may have a better grasp on the situation than some or the personality that doesn’t allow you to show too many emotions but when no one is around, you’ll reach for that hidden teddy bear for a reassuring hug.
Homesickness does sound a little juvenile but it’s a real feeling that can lead to more serious consequences if it’s not at least acknowledged. Some students can end up feeling isolated making them act out in ways they might not have thought was possible for them whereas, other students can become depressed and sabotage their education just to return home.
If you’ve already made that first step to attend a foreign university, then half of your battle is already over! The last thing you’ll need is to have to start all over again with sorting finances, gathering materials, saying your farewells and heading off once more during the time that if you had stayed, you’d already have been graduated with your American degree.
Because making a smooth transition in a strange new world is extremely important to having a fun and amazing college experience, here are a few tricks and ideas to help minimize that overwhelming feeling of homesickness (and no, we won’t tell anyone you’re reading this!):
Create A New Support System
When you’re living at home, your support system entirely surrounds you. Your parents and siblings are in the next room while your friends are only a phone call away. If you’re having a bad day, all you have to do is walk right over and get a hug from someone close to you to make it all better.
When traveling to an American university, that support system is no longer in place which is the first trigger of loneliness. You’re in a bare, new room with strange, new roommates who know nothing about you.
Instead of holing up and letting the depression wash over you making you turn on the sad songs or pull out your diary, start thinking about how you can create a new support system of friends or even your college counselor.
Make friends with your roommate and spend time learning about them and their culture. You might have a lot more in common with them than you originally thought!
Go out to the local café where college students from all over hang out to work on homework, socialize or have open mic night. In America, you’re guaranteed to meet many other foreigners who are going through exactly what you’re going through right now.
Get yourself involved and enjoy yourself, have a great time and before you know it, your college support system is right where you need it!
Bring Your Comfort With You
Maybe you don’t miss your family too much yet or your friends talk on skype with you everyday leaving no room for missing them. That doesn’t mean you’re out of the homesickness phase yet!
Many students often miss the comfort of their own bed, favorite foods or hangout places before they miss the people in their lives. After a difficult day, the only thing you’ll want to do is to crawl into your bed, lie on your pillow and pull your comforter over your head.
This is entirely understandable but is also the easiest piece of homesickness to remedy! Before you leave, look at your mattress and see who the manufacturer is so that you can buy a replica for your new bed. And who says you can’t take your pillow on flight with you?
If you create a space in your new dorm that FEELS like home, then you’ll have a comfort area to return to at the end of every day where you’ll feel safe and at ease.
Accept Your Homesickness
While it’s good to bring pictures along with you, you don’t need to make a shrine of your family or friends in the corner of your room. What you do need to do is tell yourself that there’s nothing wrong with missing your family.
Perhaps you’re asking yourself questions such as, ‘What if my parents fall sick?’ or ‘What if I miss out on my younger siblings’ achievements?’ Instead of asking yourself all the ‘What if’s’, think about what you can do!
If anything drastic happens back home, your university WILL allow you to go home and attend these issues as long as you stay within your visa requirements. Just because you left for college doesn’t mean that your family has dropped of the earth; their just a longer distance away.
If you’re able to accept that you will feel some amount of homesickness, then you’ll be able to come up with solutions to put your worries at bay. Even if you’re the star soccer player with huge muscles, you still need to admit that you’ll feel some variance of homesickness and that it’s OKAY!
Again, this is all within context. Some people feel better when they can keep their mind or hands busy with university clubs, extra course or extracurricular activities. If there isn’t much room left for the negative thoughts, then there isn’t much time to dwell on them.
You don’t want to completely crowd your day with so many activities that your schoolwork suffers though so start slowly to see what you have time for and build from there. Find some local hangouts where you’re around other people to keep your mood lifted or join a gym if you’re a more physical type of person. If you’re an introvert, pick up some extra books to read or study to pass your time.
The point of this is that if you’re able to identify what triggers your homesickness, you’ll be able to know when it’s time to get busy. The busier you are, chances are, time will fly by and before you know it, you’re dreading the return home!
And, of course, if none of this works for you or you can’t see the long-term benefits down the road and can only spot the day-to-day struggles, then it’s time to pull out the good, ole’ Pros Vs. Cons list!
In case you need a little bit of help getting started, here’s a starter list for you:
– You’ll never have electricity outages
– You’ll always have running water
– You’ll have total control of your life
– You’ll have a valuable degree when you’re finished
– You’ll have gained international exposure and experience
– You’ll guarantee an amazing future for you and your family
– You’ll be able to get just about any job in your field
– You’ll be able to receive training for employment in your field through your university
– There will be different currency rates
– American colleges can seem a little costly but which university is ever cheap?
– And, homesickness
You can take away or add whatever you’d like to your list but the end result will typically always be the same: The pros will outweigh the cons!
If you’ve had the experience of going to an international university, what were some of the ways you dealt with homesickness? Was it as bad as you thought or was it more manageable than you first believed?