What to do when homesick


Having had an international upbringing, I can’t explain where I was “born and raised”, but homesickness still persists, always a vague longing for a half-forgotten familiarity. Here I present to you my reminder on how to remain sane when away from home, and also to remind you that this happens to everyone. Solidarity, sister.

Step one: realize it’s bound to happen.

Being away from home is not easy. You can tell everyone the Titanic never made you cry but sooner or later you will come to know the weirdly tingling feeling in your heart. It happens at the worst times. It hits you when you weren’t invited to a party, when a deadline races past, when the washing-machine breaks down.  It is the bedbugs of a new apartment, the lost button of your favourite shirt, it is unavoidable. It creeps up behind you when you should be enjoying your new life, but all you want to do is close the blinds and curl yourself into a blanket burrito. Expect homesickness, so when it comes it will flow through you instead of hit you with surprise, like almost failing a class you thought was a breeze.

Step two: Prevention

Make time to say goodbye to everyone, properly and slowly and painfully. Friends, relatives, pets, even objects. Saying goodbye forces you to face the fact that you will leave things and people you love behind. Maybe spend one day going to your favourite places in the city. Go out for one last time this semester with that one crazy friend you’re secretly happy to leave behind. The ritual will make you realize the consequences of what you are doing early, and will help prevent any surprises. Taking the surprise element out of something like this makes it a million times easier. Trust me on this statistic, I study Maths.

Step three: Distraction

When you find yourself thinking about your old friends too often, make yourself busier. If you are already joining societies, join more societies. If you already have a lot of courses, buy some extracurricular books. If you have already met new people, try to remember all of their names (this has also been proven to be impossible). This will change your entire perception of time just like magic. Time seems to go slower while experiencing the new but faster while you’re doing the familiar. Use this to your advantage, and instead of wanting to message your friend back home to ask what they were up to on a Monday morning, you will be finding and doing something you love instead.

Step four: Know how to act when it does happen

If you do desperately miss something about the past, constantly comparing your current life to what it has been is one sure way to never be happy. And if having friends is not your thing, it would be a good idea to bother everyone with your negative emotions and tell everyone how much you hate it here. Negative feelings are a part of a vicious, self-perpetuating cycle, and you need to adopt a firm no-moan policy. Do not call your mother and tell her you miss a particular dish of hers under any circumstances. Curl yourself into a blanket burrito if you must, but set an alarm for when you need to get up and go out. Smile a lot, even when it’s not genuine. Especially when it’s not genuine.

Having lived in many countries, I have got to say, no matter how much you miss home right now, the pain will be short-lived. If you prepare well and keep yourself busy, it really will be the emotional equivalent to stubbing your toe.

Categories: Pennsylvania, USA

1 comment

  1. Hey xueynum,
    This is so helpful! I’m currently on my year abroad in Spain and I’ve decided to do a vlog series documenting everything that I’m going through here.

    I have a video about my own experiences with homesickness (the hardest part was leaving the wonderful British weather to coming to crappy sunny Spain – Can you believe it?!?!)

    Have a look, I’d really appreciate some feedback from other bloggers 🙂

    Thank you!!

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