By Christevie Ngoma, University of Toronto, Canada
Growing up in London and going to University in Manchester, I honestly thought homesickness was not going to affect me. I spent two years living away from home, and one of them was in a pandemic! So I thought I was an expert on dealing with being distant from family. I thought wrong.
Being a 5 hour drive away from home is one thing, but being an 8 hour plane journey and literally being in a different time zone is another. I did not expect to struggle with missing friends and family to this extent if I am being very honest.
Homesickness looks different for everyone, and can come at different moments. It comes when it’s my friends 21st birthday and everyone is celebrating but I can’t be there. It comes when I see a really good party in Manchester and all my friends have gone without me. It comes when my parents are showing me the new shed that they got in the garden, and I know I can’t see it till summer. Sometimes Homesickness only lasts a day, and then sometimes it can last a week. Particularly for me, I’m not going back home for Christmas, so I know I’m going to feel the brunt of it a lot during this December. At the end of the day, Homesickness is a completely normal feeling when you’re living out the country.
Here are some tips on how I’ve dealt with it!
1. Pick up the phone
I’ve made the conscious decision that every Sunday I call my parents back home, just so I can get an update on what’s going on! It helps to stay in touch with family and makes me feel more connected. I do the same with friends and schedule facetime calls so I can get a run down on what’s going on in everyone’s lives. Speaking to friends and family back home is the perfect opportunity to vent, laugh, cry or just to hear familiar voices!
Screenshots from the monthly facetimes I have with my best friends from London
2. Keep yourself busy
As much phone calls and facetimes are useful, it wouldn’t be a proper Canadian experience if I spent most of it talking to people from the UK. Even though it’s hard, it’s best to try to explore the city. Even if it’s just to go for a walk at a new park you haven’t seen, or to see a new tourist attraction. Try to combat the homesickness with making new memories! When you find yourself feeling lonely try to meet up with the friends you’ve made in your new city, it’s better to be surrounded by people.
3. Make yourself at home
It’s inevitable that you might have bad days, where you’re missing home more than usual. And other ways to cope with that is having things that remind you of home! Having familiar objects around you such as photo albums, stuffed animals etc can help you when you’re feeling sad! Or cooking yourself a meal that reminds you of home!