Have you ever gone to a completely unfamiliar country to live on your own? Well, I have. Twice. And of course, it was not easy.
When I was 17, I moved to Spain to live my life-long dream to study abroad. Just a year later, I moved
to the United Kingdom to pursue my dream career. After moving away from half-way across the globe, I have embarked on a journey of self-discovery and independence, and to experience life outside of my home country.
Like any normal teenager, I had a lot of expectations of university especially since I was about to start
my university life in an absolutely foreign country. The mere thought of studying abroad brought a lot
of emotions –excitement, fear, eagerness, etc. Now after one academic year in the University of Derby in England, I can say that it has been a long journey of ups and downs. Making new friends, learning to be independent, fulfilling assignments and dealing with the so-called homesickness.
Although the English language was never a struggle for me, culture shock still made me feel isolated,
different and unaccepted. It sure made me miss home after I thought about my friends from back
home and the friends I have made in Spain but most importantly, the family I left back home. But
overcoming homesickness was not difficult for me when I tried out different techniques to make my
new environment a safe place and by letting it be my new home.
Here are some tips:
- Make yourself feel at home. Decorate your halls room as homely as possible to make
yourself more comfortable with your new environment. (WARNING: Putting up pictures of
friends from home MAY or MAY NOT be a good idea when the emotions kick in.)
- Learn to make dishes from back home. With this, it will be easy to make dishes you crave
for that are not readily available in the UK. It would also be good to find the nearest grocery
store that sells foods from home. For example, they sell Asian foods in Chung Wah.
- Keep up your habits or find a hobby. When you find yourself alone in your room, spend
some time doing something that would distract yourself from feeling lonely or sad –that could
be watching your favourite TV show, playing sports outdoors, or maybe even window
shopping. A lot of things change when moving abroad and keeping a habit like these can help
maintain balance in your life. This can help with making things a little bit more familiar and
welcoming when you are adjusting to a new environment.
- Treat yourself –to good food, small local trips, shopping. Of course, all of these in
moderation and wisely.
- Keep in touch with friends and family. But never too much. Having someone to talk to about
the way you feel is always a good thing but spending too much time talking to him or her may
be disruptive from exploring your new space and being present in the place you now live in.
In the end, no matter how young or old you may be, nothing should stop you from pursuing your
dreams. Homesickness is just a brush off the shoulder. You’ll get through it, champion!