Eshra Hassan is an NWCCI participant from Bangladesh, currently studying media (film) at Pierce College. Here she shares her experience with homesickness. Everyone goes through it at some point during their study abroad journey, and everyone deals with it in their own way. Eshra describes the moment she realized that the “honeymoon phase” was over, and the important steps to get her through the difficult time.
182 days are gone; it’s been 182 days since we’ve been here in the USA. Does not seem like a big number, but that’s all it took to break me.
Now-a-days I am sad all day long. My fridge is filled with food, but every single day I stare at it for some really long minutes and decide not to eat anything. My room is a mess; I don’t want to comb my hair. I really don’t want to do anything. Piles and piles of assignments are due, have to look for an internship, have to finish volunteering hours, there are a lot of things to do but I don’t want to do anything. I don’t have the mood to do anything.
If you also feel similar this quarter, then welcome to the gang.
I really understood my happy time, or “The Honeymoon Phase,”in America was over when I spoke with my parents on Viber, and it did not make me smile anymore. When, all the funny Facebook and YouTube videos did not make me giggle anymore. When last Wednesday, I finally came out of my apartment after three days. And the final strike was when the entire free and awesome makeup samples in the holy temple of “Sephora” did not make me feel excited.
Then, it hit me hard that I was homesick.
During our first orientations we were shown a graph (pictured above), which was supposed to be a graph of adjustment / homesickness. There was a point, exactly at the bottom of the bell curve called anger. I am on that stage where I am angry and frustrated. Not angry with the change and American culture but angry at me. I am angry with myself because this exchange has been the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. All the facilities, opportunities and activities make me grateful every single day but still I am not happy anymore. I do not feel the excitement which I used to feel.
After giving a long and long thought I decided, no this has to and must stop. This feeling of “sad me” has to go away. Tables have to turn around. I cannot waste my last few months here like that. I have a lot more to explore. I have more and more things left in my bucket list to do before I leave.
A few things have really helped me to overcome my struggle (or I should say my battle) with sadness.
- Firstly, vitamin D/ the sun. It is really rare to get a glimpse of the sun in Washington, but whenever there a little ray of sunshine, I try grabbing that opportunity and drag myself out of bed, and take a walk. For no reason I smile while I walk. Fake it till you make it. Fake a smile, after a while you realize your day is getting better. Try to greet random people on your way. People in Lakewood are really nice; they always greet us so why not return the favor.
- Secondly, go to gym. I personally hate gym. The idea of running and cycling freaks me out. So, I go to the pool. I did not know how to swim, within 3 days, I learned how to float. It was a good start for me, so I try going there three times a week. Even though if you are not a fan of swimming, you can still enjoy the amazing Jacuzzi.
- Thirdly, cook more food. It does not matter if you are cooking an American dish or a local dish. Any type of cooking actually helps you. For me, cooking Bangladeshi food helps me a lot, because the taste makes feel connected to my culture in this foreign land.
- Fourthly, make a to-do list. That always helped to keep a track of everything. Make time slots and decide when you want to do what. Make sure to make it detailed, and please keep some empty slots for Facebook and movies.
- Fifth, think what you would do when you go back. Planning what I would do when I will go back home gives me chills. That day I called my mother and said that, “On 25th June Insha’Allah (hopefully) I will have lunch with you, Abbu (I call my father Abbu) and Bhaiya (brother).” Then I also gave her a big list of what to cook, but that is a different story, but the excitement of going home after 4 months gives me the power to go on. I even put the screen of my return ticket as my desktop back ground, so that reminds me to enjoy while it lasts.
This is how I dealt with the fact that the honeymoon is over. Maybe your way is different; you know what works for you the best. It is VERY important to realize that you are going through sadness/ homesickness/ depression and you will overcome it. You just have to decide to be happy and everything will automatically begin to look beautiful and shiny.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The opinions expressed in this blog by writers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Northwest Community College Initiative program, Edmonds Community College, Whatcom Community College, Pierce College, the United States Department of State or any employee thereof. NWCCI and Edmonds Community College are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied by the student bloggers.