‘Cause sometimes it takes moving to the other side of planet Earth to really appreciate what you have.
Since I was younger I have dreamed of moving to a far off place. When I hit my late teens I discovered the futuristic world of Singapore, and when the opportunity to live there 5 years later arose – I took it. I worked hard to be here, it’s one of the most amazing chances and still… I have this overwhelming feeling of sadness and longing to be back home. In the poorest town in England. In the cold. In the rain.
Homesickness when I first got here felt natural to some extent. “Give it a week” I would tell myself, “and if you don’t like it then you’ll go home!” – an active lie I would participate in, being wilfully blind to the fact I knew that when next week came, I’d force myself to do another. After several weeks went by, the sadness subsided and I began to enjoy the journey that I was lucky enough to be on.
Fast forward to Christmas time, I went home – amazing, good job Pops you did it! Now just 4 more months and you’ll be done! Piece of cake, it will be easier this time! Wrong. So very wrong. The workload increased, my immune system took a hit, most of my friends left after first sem and there’s seems to be a global pandemic hitting Asia – this has not faired well on me and my mental state. So, here are some things I am doing to try and embrace this opportunity instead of cry (literally) like a small child on the train home when “take me home country roads” comes on shuffle.
- Accept that it is okay not to be okay
Whenever I brought up I felt sad to one of my extroverted, explorer friends they would look at me, head tilted in confused. “This is a once in a lifetime experience! What is there to be sad about…” yeah they must be right. Erm, NO! Your feelings are valid. If you miss home, that is okay. Realising your not doing okay is the first step to fixing the problem!
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
I’m a very proud person and don’t like to admit that I have some flaws, including mental health problems. It took crying to my mum on FaceTime for several days in a row for her to urge me to seek help. Counselling perhaps isn’t the most common cure for homesickness, but if your homesickness has trigged some other mental health issue – reaching out for help is a great step to feeling better. It’s scary. But you are not alone. We are all human, we all feel and sometimes we need help managing those feelings. That is okay.
3. Try and embrace the things here that you won’t be able to do when back home
A busy schedule is great for helping to keep your mind off things. Try new things that aren’t available to you back home. Join societies, explore your city and go out with friends (even if you’d rather curl up in bed and binge watch all of the office). Keeping yourself occupied will help you appreciate what you have right now. Plus doing physical things will help to boost your endorphins and improve your mood – bonus!
Ultimately, you don’t want to return home at the end of this and look back in disappointment that you didn’t make the most of your time. Whether you spend it lay in bed moping to your mum on FaceTime or on the next flight to a nearby country to explore, the amount of time you are spending away from home will still be the same. When it’s over, you don’t want to look back and wish you would have done it differently.
Also, try and take the positives from this. For me, that was realising that you know what, although I’ve been conditioned to hate my crummy little town and the British weather, my blood runs cold anyway and I love nothing more than crumpets and tea. I’m grateful I have a family and a home worth missing. Oh, and my cats, most of all my cats.
So stay strong my friends. We may not be the next Marco Polo, but we shall return home with tales to tell yet! Maybe leave out the cumulative amount of hours spent crying, though.