Overcoming Homesickness as an International Student

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In the last week of August 2019, I started a new chapter of my life as an international student in Canada at an international high school. I had spent that last week of August doing “Canadian” activities with my family before they had to leave the week after. We spent a full day at Clifton Hill, shopping at the Eaton Centre, and so many more. By the time I moved into my dorm and made friends with the other international students, homesickness was the last thought on my mind. After I saw my family off at the airport and school had officially started, the realization that I wouldn’t be able to see my family as often as I usually did, and I became homesick. I was constantly in a sad mood and phone calls with my parents always ended in tears. However, after a month of gloomy moods and tearful phone calls, my homesickness got better and I was able to enjoy my experience as an international student, make memories and meet new people. In 2019, HSBC reported that 2 in 5 international students in Canada experience homesickness and nearly half reported that it affected their academic journey. These feelings can be as unpredictable as they are overwhelming and can affect all matters of international students. However, as challenging as homesickness is, it can also be conquered. In this blog, we will explore some tips and strategies to overcome homesickness as an international student in Canada and make the most out of your experience.

1.     Acknowledging your feelings: It is said that the first step to recovery from any condition is acknowledging that the condition exists. By recognizing and accepting your homesickness, you are taking a proactive approach to dealing with it. It is perfectly normal to experience these emotions when you are far from home. It’s not a sign of weakness but a testament to the connection you have with family and friends back home. This acknowledgement leads you to begin a healthier coping process and from here you could seek support when you need to, and eventually find strategies to help overcome your homesickness. Remember, homesickness is a natural phenomenon, especially among international students. It’s okay to miss home and going through this process can be seen as a natural steppingstone to personal growth and enrichment.

Establishing a Routine

2.     Establishing a Routine: One thing that helped me curb my homesickness was establishing a good productive routine. Establishing a good routine can be seen as a powerful strategy for overcoming homesickness. A consistent schedule provides a sense of structure in what seems like a moment of change and uncertainty. To manage time between studies and social life effectively, consider a daily or weekly schedule that allocates time for classes, studying, social activities and clubs and self-care. Whether its acing that midterm, trying out a new restaurant with friends or starting a new hobby; creating a consistent routine that allows you to reach attainable goals all contribute to establishing a routine while making the most of your international student experience. This also allows you to create a comfortable and predictable environment that helps to curb homesickness while also opening you to new experiences and maintaining a balanced lifestyle.

Forming New Relationships

3.     Forming new relationships: As an international student, meeting new people and making new connections is a crucial step in conquering homesickness. The first few days may seem daunting but surrounding yourself with new people could help broaden your horizons and create a diverse network of friends and acquaintances. Attending networking events, engaging in campus social activities, and participating in cultural exchange programs are all examples of how to effectively meet new people and create meaningful connections. Creating new relationships with people could help curb the lonely feeling that is accompanied by homesickness. Embracing opportunities to meet and connect with people of various backgrounds and cultures not only enriches your international student experience but helps you create a supportive and conclusive environment that eases the transition into this new society and enhances personal growth.

Stay Connected with Family & Friends

4.     Stay Connected with Family & Friends: Alongside acknowledging your feelings, staying connected with family and friends back at home is the number one cure for homesickness. During this time, I kept close connections to my family members and friends back at home regularly. Although many phone and video calls were filled with tears, it helped to hear about their lives and many other things happening in my community. It made me feel connected to home. Keeping close contact with family and friends can be considered a lifeline for many international students battling homesickness. We are currently in a  technological period where instant communication and maintaining relationships that are oceans away is possible. Regular phone calls, texts, video calls and messages from loved ones can bridge the gap and provide a comforting sense of continuity. Being able to express your feelings and concerns to your loved ones could provide a sense of relief as they know you better than anyone else and can therefore support you emotionally. This can help to alleviate those feelings of loneliness and longing. However, it is important to maintain a balance between cherishing and staying connected with loved ones back home and actively engaging in your new environment and creating new connections. The connection with loved ones back home can serve as a source of strength, anchoring you through the turbulent waves of homesickness and allowing you to flourish in your international student journey as you make new connections and gain new experiences.

In conclusion, homesickness is a natural condition that happens to many international students and can be overcome through the strategies I’ve curated. Acknowledging your problems is the first step and leads towards a healthy journey in overcoming the condition. Establishing a consistent routine could help you stay organized while creating a comfortable environment to gain experiences and make connections. Making new connections allows you to create a supportive environment of new people and experience getting to know people from diverse backgrounds. Finally, Staying connected to loved ones back home allows you to curb homesickness by bridging the physical gap between you and your loved ones and maintaining connections them.

Message from the Author

As I conclude this blog, my hope is that it has provided you with valuable insight and practical advice to internationals students who may be grappling with homesickness. Always remember that many international students are currently going through the same thing, and you are not alone. If you have any questions or more tips you might want to share with me, you can connect with me on LinkedIn or Instagram. Grateful for your time and attention. Look out for more posts!

Ava Ansari

About the Author

Hi! I’m Chidera Nwana, a Pearson Campus ambassador, Computer Science undergrad at Brock University and author of this blog post. With this blog post, I aim to share some insight on how to tackle homesickness based on personal tips I’ve used and gotten from family and friends. I hope this post was as insightful as I intended and look out for more blog posts from me. When I’m not writing blog posts or engrossed in schoolwork, I like to watch cartoons, listen to music, and play video games with my friends.

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