This is my third year in college and I still get all the pangs of homesickness from time to time even though I visit home every year. I am from Bangladesh and came to USA to pursue my Bachelor’s degree. If you are an international student like me, I am sure you will be able to relate to few of the times when I feel homesick the most. Sometimes, I even miss things I thought I will never miss or cared the least for. It’s very interesting way of discovering what matters to you and how much you are attached to things and people you probably didn’t think you valued so much.
Family and friends are the ones I miss the most. The first pang of homesickness hit me in my first month here, when I realized I was very alone and I don’t have the people I loved the most beside me right now. New place, new culture, new faces and so much to get used to. At my first day of orientation in Stony Brook University, I saw parents of other students attending the orientation with their children and being there with them at their big day. My heart sank because I had no one. As classes started and days passed, I felt lonely in my classes. I had been at the same school since grade 2 till high school. I missed those familiar faces very much and realized, we will never sit under the same class together ever again. At school, I always sat with my best friends but they were not the only people I missed. I missed everyone I used to sit in class with, everyone I interacted with on a daily basis. Would have never understood what they mean to me if I didn’t have to be here without them. I am very thankful to these people who made my life so beautiful without me even realizing it.
If there is something I have missed the most after family and friends, then it’s food. If you know me personally, you can tell I am a foodie! I love Bengali cuisines and the street foods of Bangladesh. When I have to eat a pre-made sandwich or not so tasty food from SAC after a long hectic day, that too by spending a lot of money, I miss food at home. That pang of homesickness is just so evident. I often tell my friends, Bangladesh is ‘food- heaven’ and I wonder how I got so lucky to have been born in that country. The blend of spices, the variety of dishes is just mind-blowing. Bangladesh is very rich in culture and our food is an art. We also have something called sweets and that comes in a variety too. If you ever visit Bangladesh, then trying out all the different kinds of sweets is a must. Also, we like to have specific menu for few special days of the year. Like ‘Panta-Elish’ for the morning of the Bengali new year, ‘Khichuri’ for a cozy rainy day, ‘Taal-er-rosh’ in the early morning of winter and not to forget the variety of ‘Pitha’ in winter. I never thought I will miss these so much. The street foods were my favorites and I don’t know how many times I have been sad here just because I was craving those delicious foods from home.
If you have ever known a Bangladeshi closely, they will tell you it is a land of festivals. That’s right! We have people of four different religions living together in the same country and the country celebrates all the religious festivals. Eids, Pujas, Buddha Purnima and Christmas are just a few to be mentioned. The air gets so festive when these festivals take place. So much happiness and energy everywhere around. Also, different religions have their own ways and traditions to celebrate so it’s interesting to see how they each celebrate their festivals. We also have cultural events.
Like the first day of Spring when everyone welcomes spring with spring festivals and fairs around the country. People usually wear bright yellow on this day to symbolize the blooming spring. Then we have the first day of Bengali new year which is one of the biggest festivals in the country. We have cultural programs around the country on this day, we eat Bengali cuisines and wear traditional clothes in white and red. The country gets so colorful and vibrant on these days.
We also celebrate International Mother Language Day on the 21st of February, the date at which the Bengali language movement took place and have a whole month of book fair dedicated to it. Going to the book fair has always been on my list. It’s one of my most awaited events. we also have international trade fair where vendors from different countries participate and the fair goes on for a month.
The country also celebrates its Independence Day on the 26th of March and Victory Day on the 16th of December. There are few more celebrations going throughout the year. You can tell by now how much I miss all of these and the pangs of homesickness I get when I see everyone at home celebrating.
When I was leaving for college, I knew I would miss my people but I didn’t know I will miss the place I grew up at so much, the streets I walked around every day, the faces of my neighbors who smiled at me every time we met on the lanes, the smell of food coming from the food carts at the streets, the crowd, the sound of Azan, my culture, my traditions and everything that I grew up with, everything that made me who I am today, that contributed to my personality. I never understood how much all these meant to me until I had to live without these. All I can say is, I really miss home and I look forward to every summer just to go home!