I came to the US to begin my undergraduate journey at Pepperdine in the fall of 2019. As great as my first semester was, it was really all a blur. I was trying to navigate so many things as an international student: figuring out classes, pledging for Greek life, building a social life, and just trying to figure out my life in general. By the spring semester, I felt more established. I started to regain control over my life and was just settling into college life when COVID-19 hit. What was supposed to be a “momentary break” of maybe a few weeks — a gleeful pause from classes — turned into a few months, then the summer, then the fall, and here we are, over a year later, still trying to recover from the effects of this pandemic.
A lot happened during this period: I moved places a handful of times, got a part time job, and cut and dyed my hair. The one thing I still haven’t gotten to do yet is go back home. Not being able to go home led to an emotional roller coaster of new challenges I had to to figure out all on my own.. In retrospect, I realize I went through three very distinct phases as I tried to cope with the loss of not being able to return home.
- So much joy
Call me selfish but I honestly was super excited to spend my first summer here in America with my friends. Without having to worry about my parents, I had a lot of liberties to decide what I wanted to do each day, what I wanted to eat, when I would go to sleep and when I wanted to wake up.
- Homesickness hit
Halfway through, I started getting homesick. I missed my parents here and there, and wanted to be around them. I stayed in contact with my family the entire time and they would send me updates of what they did that day or how they celebrated my grandpa’s birthday. Only being able to be with them through a phone screen made me sad. Don’t even get me started on food back home — that was one thing I religiously missed everyday (and still do).
At this point, I was past the sadness of homesickness as I started to be more independent and got used to living life on my own. I know how corny this all could sound — like I went through a break-up — but I guess that’s just how everyone deals with any kind of separation. I still miss my family as I am finally making plans to go back home this summer now that travel is open, but I’ve gained a different perspective defined not only by feeling joy from some vague idea of “freedom” but by accepting life and moving on.