After the dust begins to settle and the craziness of moving to a foreign country winds down, it becomes easy to start feeling a little homesick. As someone who had always lived at home with my parents, it was a huge leap to studying abroad for 4 months. Here’s the thing about moving out for the first time- there’s really no way to prepare for it. You just kind of get thrown into the deep end and you’re forced to learn basic necessities. You start realizing the things you have taken for granted and become a little more thankful.
My parents were wary of letting me go study abroad, so I promised them that I would FaceTime them every so often so that I could update them from time to time and get to just talk to them. I used to think that the calls were more for them to stay reassured, but I find myself wanting to tell them about my day and know about theirs.
As I had more free-time in the beginning, it was easy to make time for them. We would call couple of days and it didn’t feel so bad. It was when classes started that things got a little more tricky, especially with timezone differences in mind. It was hard to get up early enough to call them since they slept early. We had schedules to work around and there were just so many clashes. It was disheartening to miss each other and finding the middle ground was hard. Messaging was an option, but our conversations were limited by the fact that I couldn’t write Chinese and my parents didn’t really know English that well.
Our solution was to put aside an hour during the weekend for the both of us— a scheduled weekly call. It’s a good way to reenergize and it always helps seeing familiar faces. (Sometimes I miss my cat too, so they send me pictures of her.) My mom thinks it’s hilarious when I send her pictures of food that I cook since I’m pretty new at it. Whenever I go somewhere new or exciting, I send photos and we would have things to talk about during our phone calls. It’s the little things that help us feel connected while we’re an ocean apart.
I have always told myself that it would go by faster than it seems and that I should make the most of my experience. (Which is still true, where did the first month go?! What do you mean midterms is in two weeks?) Homesickness comes and goes in waves, but there are ways to cope. It’s what people always tell you- you need to stay busy. Keep up with your hobbies abroad! Mine is drawing and journaling, so I’ve been doing that in my free time. I’ve started taking up exercising, so that helps occupy my time as well. Most importantly, remember that this opportunity is one that is hard to come by. You chose to come here for a reason and that is to experience a new environment and learn more about yourself. People are often concerned about money when it comes to studying abroad, but there are so many things you can do on a budget. You don’t need to spend a ridiculous amount of money exploring areas and to have a good time. Making friends and becoming familiar with your surroundings also helps fight the homesickness. It’s all about feeling safe and emotionally charged. Lastly, more than anything, time will combat your homesickness. Eventually you will get into a routine and things will just feel normal. Advice to self: just power on— homesickness is normal.