By Catrin Stewart (University of Guelph, Canada)
Reading week was my halfway point. I was lucky enough to have my parents fly out to meet me in LA and we drove to San Francisco together. We saw everything: Venice Beach, Universal Studios, Haight Ashbury – we even biked the Golden Gate Bridge. California has always been top of my list of places to go and it definitely lived up to expectations. Seeing my parents and getting away for a week was also a welcome break after midterms. Whilst being at university in Guelph is so much fun, being in a small city can definitely get a bit claustrophobic, and by week 7 I was itching to get away.
It was amazing to have a piece of home over in the US and see my parents, but it definitely made returning to Guelph at the end of the week a lot more difficult. I felt properly homesick for the first time the moment I got back into residence. I think I had the mind set of working towards the winter break in my head for so long that I felt lost now that it was over. But after getting a proper sleep and seeing my friends and hearing all about their trips and the memories they had made, I felt much better. I don’t know when I’m going to return home because I want to travel after I finish term, which makes things a little harder than having a solid goal or end to work towards, but I’m trying to make the most out of living this way. Enjoying each day as it comes and as I experience it, instead of always looking forwards.
I guess I am very lucky to have hardly struggled with homesickness or culture shock during this semester so far. I think this is partially because Canada is culturally very similar to England, so adjusting was pretty easy aside from a few small differences. However, I have been surrounded by many people who have had different experiences to me, whether more positive or negative. The thing I have seen most is the importance of friendships and keeping busy. If anyone has struggled with feeling low or homesick, the best remedy has always been company and activity. I think being around people, and travelling or exploring (even if it seems like you’re just putting yourself in yet another new situation) is a great way to remind yourself of how lucky you are to be having this experience. Despite it being hard away from home, it is always useful to remind yourself how hard you worked to get to where you are, and how incredible it is that you are actually, finally here.