Dear Homesickness

Chinese international student with her American host family at Christmas
Hairou from China
Hello, I hope everything is going well in your exchange journey. You are more than halfway there! By now you are likely adjusted to school life and have developed a good relationship with your host family. Today, I am going to share with you some tips about how to deal with homesickness.

The easiest time to get homesick is around the holidays, especially if you are on a school break. Your normal routine is disrupted, and you have a lot more free time. Watching your host family and their extended family get together to celebrate their holiday can make you miss your own family and traditions. I’ve been through this and it is ok to be sad. But I urge you to talk to your host family, friends, or coordinator about how you are feeling. Don’t hide in your room all the time, trust me that will only make it worse. As you share your own feelings and focus on the traditions and activities your host family has, you can learn many things that will enrich your life and knowledge, such as historical background and culture behind the holiday and there might even be some very interesting stories!

Everyone carries in their heart a feeling or desire for one's home, but it’s not something that you feel every day. Our busy routines fill those spaces. However, when our routine is broken or a special holiday at home is happening, it’s harder to ignore that feeling in your heart of not being at home. As an international student, we are impacted by two and sometimes more cultures, all of which have their own share of nostalgia.

Chinese New Year is the biggest holiday for many Asian cultures. In the United States, however, it is not a big deal, which can make it hard for those of us missing home, to deal with. During my first year of being an exchange student, Chinese New Year was the hardest time for me. I hid in my room all day and was very homesick. This was not the right thing to do. I learned this the hard way. I wish someone had told me these things: Don’t be on your phone or call home all day. Plan something special for yourself. Make a special dish for yourself and host family to celebrate. Hang out with your friends. Share your own traditions and stories about the holiday. All these can help to divert your attention so your homesickness will not be so bad. This will be my third year celebrating Chinese New Year in the United States. This year I am ready and very excited. My friends and I have some special plans (Hotpot!) and my host family is also planning for a Chinese New Year party. We will spend lots of family time together too, just like home! You might find out that celebrating your holiday in a different country could be a wonderful experience to add to your journey. I hope you will have a great holiday!

Studying abroad takes a lot of courage and hard work, especially if you are dealing with homesickness. Once you overcome this there is nothing that can defeat you!

Thank you for reading this, I wish you have a happy new year!

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