One of the toughest experiences of being an international student is dealing with homesickness. Chances are that you speak a different language, eat different food, and look and/or sound different from the other students at your university. These things can make you feel alienated and separated from the crowd at the university. In addition, the incredible struggle of cultural transition and acculturation can be tough and take time to overcome.
And no matter how much you evade and rationalize it, at some point, homesickness will get to you. It’s an inevitable, painful, heartbreaking, and part of the experience–but there are ways to soften the blow.
- Make a few friends from your home country or culture.
Go for events and traditional restaurants together, but limit your time with them. It’s easy to fall into the bubble of only being with people from your home country/culture. You haven’t flown all the way across oceans to limit yourself. But, do spend an adequate amount of time with them.
- Watch movies and television from your home country.
It doesn’t matter if back home you’re indifferent or the biggest fan of movies and television shows produced in your home country. Here, it’s going to make you feel better. The wonderful thing about film and television is that it will connect you back to your culture and home, without showing you things that are closer to you. You’ll see images of your city, but not your apartment complex or house. It still maintains a healthy distance and allows you to cope with your homesickness in a more controlled manner.
- Introduce your international friends to your home country/culture.
Homesickness is different for everyone, and connecting with people from your home country or culture may not always prove to be a remedy. Sometimes, being with someone unrelated to your culture may just be what you need. Introduce them to your culture from the eyes of a native. Tell them about history and cook them food. It’s always a refreshing experience to explore your country from a new perspective.
- 4. Talk to your friends studying in other parts of the country/world.
Chances are that you know other students from your home studying in the same country as you. Your experience of homesickness and the struggle of transition might hit home (no pun intended) to those whom you grew up with. There’s no moment of bonding like while reminiscing about places you’ve been or laughing over the ignorance rooted in phrases like, “Your English is so good” or, “Do you have internet there?” They will understand your struggles better than most. Don’t hesitate to talk to them, because they may want to open up to you about their struggles too.