Blog by Ilena Vunga 2020.1
Homesickness is real and when it hits you, you feel it in so many ways. It impacts you mentally and sometimes even physically. Though often joked about, it really does affect you. So what is homesickness? Well basically, it is when you’re feeling a little or maybe even a lot of distress from being away from home. It is missing the things that you are used to. This can include but not limited to your house, family, pets, and food. However, don’t stress! We all go through this and most people will miss something while they are away so you’re not on this road alone.
Having it is one thing but not being able to cope is another. Just know that there are others here who either know how you feel or are willing to help you out. Don’t be afraid to say that you miss home because the likelihood of someone knowing exactly how you feel is pretty high. I am no expert but I am pretty sure that some quote on Instagram had told me that bottling up feelings weren’t good and who would ever doubt an Instagram quote? On a serious note though, if you are really struggling then you need to reach out to those around you.
Homesickness is common so please don’t think you’re supposed to tough it out be happy all the time. Though the experience of being in a new country is amazing it doesn’t stop you from feeling the effects of being far from home. Signs of homesickness can include anxiety and constantly thinking of home. It can be the feeling of isolation and loneliness as well as feeling like you’re the odd one out because you’re different from others who seem to be having a better time. It’s decreased motivation and getting irritable at the smallest things. It’s sadness, social withdrawal, a negative outlook and a lack of connection with others. Of course one of the signs in missing the people, things, places, and comforts that are associated with home. You may feel all the signs or just a few but it doesn’t change the fact that you are homesick.
I am no expert in this department and I am not here to tell you that I have all the answers but what I can give are some pointers and suggestions. So with that in mind, let’s dive into my top 10 recommendations of what to do when you feel homesick. In other words my TTROWTDWYFH.
1) Don’t give yourself too much pressure.
Don’t give yourself such a hard time when you feel homesick. It’s normal and we all go through it. Having high expectations for yourself only leads to more disappointment. Take each day at a time and live in each moment. Stop envisioning this amazing adventure that you may never go on and take each journey as they come. Giving yourself so much pressure only leads you to stress more. In the words of Bob Marley “Don’t worry. Be happy”
2) Get out and about
Get out and about! Don’t stay in your room too much and actually get some fresh air. Keeping to yourself on your own only reminds you of how isolated you actually are. There are millions of people in this city alone so why not leave the four walls you have become so accustomed to? Maybe practice your Mandarin in the process.
3) Look at the brighter side of things
I know that I can just tell you to stay positive but how realistic is that really? Being constantly positive is not something that happens naturally and though we wish it were true, negativity always worms itself in. So what I am going to say instead is to look at the brighter side of each situation instead. Take it one step at a time and try to see the happy side even though that may be hard. Instead of taking it all in and getting sad, think of the lessons it may be teaching you. If you are one of those people who manage to be happy all the time, I envy you. For those of us who feel all emotions including sadness, let’s try our best to be a bit more lively.
4) Ask for help
Everyone gets sad. Everyone gets homesick. So… ASK FOR HELP! Do not think that you have to go through it all on your own. Talk to someone about how you’re feeling. Nothing is worse than feeling isolated and alone with no escape. There are people around you both here and back home who care and though it may not seem like it, you do have people here. Do not feel like you can’t speak out because you might be seen as weak or childish. How will people know how you feel and that you need help if you don’t say it? Speak up and if those initial people don’t listen, talk to someone else. There are always ears willing to listen and you never know, you might just find the answers you have been looking for. If you never ask, you will never know.
5) Go exploring.
Get lost in this beautiful city. There are so many things to do and things to see. Distract yourself by trying new things. See the beautiful sights and find out what this place has to offer. There are so many historical sites to see, malls to shop, bargains to be made and food to eat. Lose yourself in its beauty.
6) Keep in touch
Keep in touch with people back home. You miss them so why not give them a call? However, do not call every moment of every day and don’t call every time you miss them. You’re never going to be able to get over your homesickness if you constantly remind yourself of what you’re missing. Call home once in a while to see how they are and to keep them update but please don’t overdo it. I get that you are missing home but you’re never going to be able to see the amazing things around you if you’re blinded by how much you miss home. Give yourself the chance to grow.
7) Keep Healthy
This one is more of a reminder to myself but the seventh recommendation is to keep healthy and to get active. Don’t binge eat if you don’t usually eat a large amount and don’t drink more than what you can actually handle. Go for a run, join a sports club, join a dance class, hike I a mountain. I don’t know what you have to do but take the advice of someone who is clearly not taking her own advice and stay Healthy.
8) Make new friends
Get out and make new friends. Meet new people. Also, maybe don’t just stick to the other foreigners you know. There are many people who would be interested in where you come from and there are many who want to conversate in English! Don’t be that one person who came all the way to China and did not make a single Chinese friend. Add people on Wechat, say hello to strangers and you never know, they might just help you with your homework on the subway while heading to class. Put yourself out of your comfort zone and say hello to people once in a while and don’t get discouraged if they don’t reply. Make new friends and have fun! Also… locals know the best places to go so make sure to be extra friendly so that they can take you along next time they know of things happening.
9) Write a journal
Write down how you feel. No matter if you’re sad, lonely, happy, excited or whatever. Write it down. It’s a way to express yourself without the worry of being judged or rejected. It might seem weird at first but write it down and let it go. If you find it hard to ask for help or to talk to others about how you feel homesick, this is a great way to say just how you feel without anyone knowing.
10) Do things that you love doing at home
Part of the reason as to why you are so sad is that you have literally left everything that you know behind including home comforts. I find that by doing some of the things that I do at home really helps me feel less homesick. This could be as simple as french toast on Sunday mornings, coffee with a good book, a favorite tea, a weekly TV show, a snack, a ritual or anything that you do at home. Just because you are in a new country does not mean that you forget all the things you have done before. There is no need for you to deprive yourself of the things you love.
So there it is ladies and gentlemen! If you’ve read all of it to this point… I am proud of you! Just remember that homesickness is normal and that you always have people around you care. Be happy and enjoy your time with Auparia because you can easily just blink and it will be time to go home. Don’t waste too much time being homesick because you may miss out on all the amazing things around you.
Enjoy your trip and be safe!