A Beginner's Guide to Homesickness

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‘Have you ever been to a place you’re supposed to love but all you can think about is home?’

College is great; it really is. Especially if you live away from home. There’s a new kind of life to live, with a new set of rules, and a new set of people. You have to manage your own time and create your own space without any persistent adult guidance. It has been one of the most liberating experiences of my life so far.

However, even though I’m just four months down in the first semester of my freshman year, I can’t wait to go back home. I miss being there. I’m not sure what exactly I miss though. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the food, maybe it’s my family, or maybe it’s just the comfort of being in my own bed while doing absolutely nothing. I can never seem to pinpoint it. Whatever it is, once it decides to enter my thoughts, it will not leave till I am left a confused mess, questioning why I ever chose to leave. I can’t be the only one going through this, can I?

Roshni Srimany, a freshman at Ashoka, shares a similar experience. She succumbs to homesickness quite often, and, in those times, her main choice of remedy is calling her mother: ‘My mother is the best person to talk to because no matter what it is, she always knows how to make things better.’ Roshni suggests that one of the best ways to avoid homesickness is to distract yourself by doing something that requires your focus, like cycling or watching a light movie. ‘A very important thing to do is to create a space in your room that feels like home, be it through décor, music, or lighting.’

On the other hand, Charuvi Lokare, a sophomore, tells me that she feels nothing close to homesick: ‘I usually end up missing home when I’m ill or overworked, but other than that, I don’t really mind being away from it. There’s so much to do on campus, with so many events happening every week. And, of course, you can go to Delhi on the weekends if you’re too sick of the campus life!’ She tells me that it’s okay to feel homesick, no matter what year you’re in or how long you’ve been away from home. Her advice is to do things you like and hang out with your friends. ‘If all else fails, the most comfort-giving activity is to sleep!’

After hearing them, I feel more hopeful. There are so many avenues to dealing with what I feel. Fiona Achieng is a freshman from Kenya who is as new to India as she is to Ashoka University. I wanted to know what she feels about being so far away from home. Her response? ‘I don’t miss it. I live in oblivion.’  I am astounded by her words until she adds ‘Just kidding. I miss home sometimes. And when I do, I call my family and talk to them. Sometimes, my sister puts her laptop in front of the TV and lets me watch it. She puts on various shows and cartoons. This one time, my mom walked in on me watching a cartoon this way and told my sister to put something else on because I never liked this cartoon! It was true, but that didn’t matter. I felt like home. Sometimes, my family gives me tours of our house: the rooms, the closets, everything.’ Upon being asked how one can combat homesickness, Fiona replies ‘Apart from talking to family, talk to friends from home.’

I feel relieved by my encounters. There are so many ways to cope with feeling homesick, and everyone has their own preferred methods. Sophomore Barun Parruck tells me that although he is very content with the Ashokan environment and never feels homesick, he loves finding comfort in playing the piano and doing math proofs (‘They are very cathartic’)! In my personal experience, though, I would strongly advise two activities:

1.     Calling home. Even if it’s for a little while. Sometimes all we need is to hear the sound of our parents’ voice to feel close to them again. Let them know you’re missing them. Maybe start a fight with your sibling while you’re at it; home is incomplete without sibling wars, isn’t it? Who knows? Maybe a phone call is all you need to stop feeling low.

2.     Surround yourself with people and/or engage in an interesting activity. One consequence of feeling lonely and homesick is that we often curl up in our beds, wallowing in our sadness. That’s perfectly okay. But when we decide that we want to change the way we’re feeling, we have to engage ourselves, be it with other people, with art, writing, books, or even something as simple as music.

 

Apart from this, there are several other ways you can lift your spirits up! Tell people how you feel and let them shower you with hugs and affection. Buy yourself something you like (earrings are what make me happy)! Eat some soul food: try Maggi with extra masala and scrambled eggs on top! Paint your feelings! Whip up some warm coffee and get lost in a book (preferably one that isn’t course-assigned)! The options are endless. And if, after all this, you still feel the slightest bit homesick, accept your feelings and let them be. Remind yourself that you will be home very, very soon.

Edited by Priyanka Shankar

Photographic content curated by Viraj Malani