Thursday, July 30, 2015

Overcoming Homesickness to Make Your Experience Memorable

By Deliece Knights
Student Ambassador, CUNY Baruch College

Unless you are a seasoned traveler or a free-spirited nomad, moving to another country as an international student can be a daunting experience. You have left your home country, your culture, your friends and family, and your customs to adapt to another, albeit momentarily.

Fortunately for you, this is quite common, and there are several ways to combat and overcome homesickness. Here are four ways to make your international student experience more memorable.

1. Embrace the Change

Homesickness becomes unbearable when you harbor on it repeatedly and continuously, so it’s important to reflect and understand why you are in a new country as an international student in the first place. Think about everything that you have organized and sacrificed just to be able to pursue your education, and use it as your motivation. Welcome the fact that you are on a journey through your education and make it into a positive. Changing your mindset can greatly reduce feelings of homesickness.

2. Learn About Where You Are

There is a difference between researching information about a country online and learning about a place firsthand. A huge factor in homesickness stems from a lack of understanding about your new home. Do not simply go to class and then straight back to your residence. Find out about your neighborhood and its peculiarities. Learn about popular events and hallmark locations such as diners and bars or museums and train stations. Learn about the best ways to travel and, in general, the basic geography around your school and neighborhood. This will help make you feel like you belong and in turn reduce your homesickness.

3. Exert Yourself and Make Friends

Yes, we know – it’s not as easy as it seems. Exerting yourself, however, is one of the most effective ways to combat homesickness. Try to join a group or a club outside of academics. Conduct research online or look out for flyers in coffee shops and at your university to find out about meeting times, and try going to a session. Doing so will allow you to meet with people from outside of your academic circle who can show you around and introduce you to the country from a different perspective.

Alternatively, you can look within your school community for groups and clubs where you can bond with those who may also be international students or have similar interests as you.

4. Make Your Surroundings Like Home

Use your photos and other memorabilia from your home country as decoration at your new living space. Having memories of home can help you settle down in your new location. This way you have a “home away from home” oasis whenever you come back from classes or events.

Find recipes and foods that are native to your home country and attempt to cook them. Keeping yourself satiated in this way can go a long way in reducing your homesickness.

Lastly, you can look for cultural events with representatives from your home country to keep yourself reminded of your culture and customs. Attending these events and meeting people of similar backgrounds will help with feelings of loneliness and should help balance your nostalgia with current joys and familiarity.

Try some of these tips and you will surely reduce your feelings of homesickness. Good luck!
Deliece Knights, 24, will matriculate at Baruch College in New York City in August. There she will pursue an MBA in organizational behavior/human resource management. She holds a bachelor’s degree in French with a minor in human resource management. Deliece enjoys traveling and has experience working as a professional dancer. She is from Trinidad and Tobago.

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