Oddly enough for California, it is been raining so much this year. With this rains and cold the inevitable sickness is spreading. It is “that” season. I was sick, very sick. I am still recovering. And this is the time I badly badly want to be home, to be around my family. I even miss the convenience of “family doctor” in India. Whenever you are feeling ill, just call them, talk to them like you personally know them and they will talk back the same, visit them the same day, even visit unannounced and they will happily see you, consult and give you medicines. Convenience. The medical system in U.S.A. is trying my patience. Every part of my body wants to run home right now. and I have already cried over it. But I am ok now, I have started working again and catching up with my schedule slowly. These two years have trained me very well to come out of that feeling of “wanting to run back home”.
So here are my top ten ways for an international student to fight homesickness.
Cooking is the best therapy in many ways. Now when I say cook, I mean call you mother or sister or bua or aunt or neighbor aunt or grab anyone who’s free and ask their favorite recipe. It will take an hour or so, you will be chatting reminiscing and having good time side by you will have excellent homelike dish cooked. Cooking will keep you occupied, you will learn cooking, you will have home cooked healthy food and you just have spent good time hanging out with one of your own. This is a great great way to beat that homesickness.
2. don’t stay in your room for long
The same mundane environment same schedule is another cause of homesickness. Being an international student, you will have to deal with tons of assignment, studies, exams and projects. And so, you will end up in a same room same place the whole day. Plus for us, we have restrictions on spending money, so we naturally prefer staying in the room. This can become very depressing very quickly. So, go out of the room often. Take a walk in the nearby parks or around the university. Go to the library for studies. Just change up your routine frequently and you will see the difference.
3. get a realistic schedule
Speaking of routines, it is very important to have a realistic one. Getting organized is good. Girls are specially skilled in getting well organized, making time tables, having schedules. But if you put 20 things to achieve in one day, you will end up not doing most of them. Or you will strain yourself so much that you might start hurting yourself. Failing to achieve your goals may make you depressed. And this is when there is a chance that you will break down and give up completely and would want to go home. So it is very very important to set yourself goals that you can achieve. Don’t pressurize yourself. Be easy on you. You know your strength. So, be wise when making your day to day schedule. Plan your day in the morning, and before sleeping just go over your day and make a note of what have your achieved that day.
4. study, perform good and ask for help
Being said that, it is also important not to set goals too easy. After all, you are here to do something extraordinary. Find that perfect balance. If you are regular in submitting assignments, performing good in class, it is very easy to maintain a good GPA. In final job search, good GPA is always useful. If your GPA is down, your performance is poor, that will affect your mental health. You might not want to speak to your parents. Study regularly reminding yourself your purpose. Why you have come here leaving everything behind, find your motivation. Your good performance will help you feel good about you, it will make your parents proud, and it will ultimately help you overcome the feeling of homesickness. Now, once you start doing assignments and exams, you will understand that it is not as easy and straightforward. You will get stuck, you will have to struggle keeping up with deadlines. Don’t stress out. Ask for help. Ask your fellow students, ask professors, ask your seniors. Professors are really friendly and helpful here. So, instead of putting yourself in any pressure, simply ask !
5. stay healthy and do not fall sick
When you fall sick, that is the time you need your home. You need your mother to take care of you. This is very bad situation to be in so far from your home and falling sick. Plus, it is punishment to fall sick in the country as it is not as easy as it is in India. It is not easy on your pocket as well. Plus it badly affects your studies. So, eat healthy, eat regularly, exercise daily and stay fit.
6. call home friends but only once a day
You will probably think that the best way to beat homesickness is talk to your family and friends. Yes it is, but no. I have seen people talking to their mom thrice a day for hours and hours. And more to other relatives and then friends. It is like they are back home more than they are here in their present. I know it is addictive to talk to your loved once. But do not overdo. More you talk more you get hooked back home. So, restrict your calls to one hour everyday. Once done, get back to your current agenda, be it studying, assignments, cooking, anything.
7. Hang out with friends but carefully
Everyone of us is different. Some are introverts some are extroverts. When you are away from home, there is unwritten rule that you have to have friends as they are new family. It is true. Your friends become everything. But, with that pressure of having to have friends, we end up in a group where we don’t match up. When I came here, I have been hanging around with these wonderful people and we did dance party in the night with disco lights and many things which actually I really don’t enjoy much. Everyone of them was nice, its just I didn’t find “me” in the group. I ultimately ended up finding my other way. So, the point is, if you don’t fit in, you start feeling more lonely, you start missing your old friends even more. So, instead of forcing friends on you, keep networking until you find the once with whom your interest match. I might be saying this with one perspective, as I have seen people who are very chatty, jolly and can mix up with anyone and everyone. Find out which one you are.
8. make it homely with good smells and sounds
This might be a weird suggestion to overcome homesickness, but making your surrounding pleasant can help a lot. Tidy up your space daily. Decorate your room the way your old room was. Find inspirations on pinterest. Listen to your favorite music. (If you share room, then please use headphones.) If you love bollywood music or classical or oldies or coke studio or whatever you used to listen, continue. Moreover, good smells do wonderful things to your mind. It calms your mood. I like to blow candles a lot. I am a biggest fan of Bath and Body Works and Yankee candles and I stock up with lots of them. Flowery and citric smells are my favorite while earthy and woody are my boyfriend’s favorite. Candles and fairy lights in the evening really lighten my mood. It is really important to make your space cozy and comfortable.
9. don’t stay up late
One more odd suggestions, but more you start getting in to your master student zone, more your find your schedule messed up. Everyone become night owls. And everyone finds weird justifications to having to sleep late. 12 and 1 PM start to become standard dinner timings. And 3 and 4 start becoming natural time for bed. I have seen this happening around me and I felt compelled to do the same. But it is wrong. This start affecting your health very badly. Sun is not out in a day for you to use our blinds to block it and sleep and then stay up late to finish your assignments. Follow a good day schedule to stay healthy.
Easy and straightforward, do what you like to do. Have a hobby and pursue it side by your studies. I had a friend who brought tabla with him. Annoying to his roommates, but he could spend his time happily practicing tabla when in stress. Hobby is the best way to make you happy. Whenever you start feeling homesick, grab a book and start reading, or take out your colors and start painting, or go out and start clicking pictures, or start singing songs or dance off or start exercising or explore or do whatever is “your thing”. It will immediately change your mood and will bring you back to happy side.
Well this is how I deal with homesickness. Although I have not conquered it 100%, but these steps help me reduce it. How do you deal with homesickness ?