We all feel it at some point in life. So let’s understand what it means and how to cope.
What is Homesickness?
Homesickness is a feeling of grief and discomfort that is experienced when we miss a familiar environment. Feelings of discomfort can manifest in different ways such as stress, sadness and anxiety among others.
Joshua Klapow, a professor of public health at the University of Alabama – Birmingham, is a clinical psychologist often featured in various US media outlets. Klapow explains homesickness is when we long for something that is known, predictable and stable in our minds. He elaborates that the feeling has little to do with specifics of past or present situations. For instance, a person could be struggling with poverty or other challenges and still feel homesick despite living in a comfortable college campus (Bolgna, 2018).
Is Homesickness Normal?
Absolutely! First of all, homesickness is a normal occurrence, even if you don’t think it will happen to you. It’s part of the adjustment process, and most times comes about when we experience culture shock. On the adjustment curve, homesickness is commonly displayed when a person is going through a ‘low’ time in their experience. This typically comes after the honeymoon phase of culture shock.
What Happens when we are Homesick?
During my final year of high school, I went on a one-year cultural exchange program to the US. I was confident I wasn’t going to miss home because the opportunities that lay ahead of me felt far much important than anything I had experienced before. Turns out, I was right about the opportunities being important to me – I wasn’t right about not feeling home sick. I lived with a host family and, on the very first day I arrived at their home, I broke down into tears in the bathroom completely confused about the choices I had made. I had never prepared to feel that way. Everything was different and unfamiliar. It took me time to adjust. Homesickness was not a constant feeling though. I realized that it popped up in the simplest times such as missing my family, certain foods, and especially homemade Indian curry.
As a result, I often withdrew from activities when I felt homesick. Eventually, I learned how to cope. I accepted that it is OK to feel homesick. Of course, different people will experience homesickness in different ways. Sometimes these feeling can even manifest physical reactions, such as uneasiness in the stomach, nausea and lack of appetite, among others. The comfort of home, as explained by Klapow, becomes like a person we have lost and miss.
How to Cope with Homesickness
Homesickness affects the state of our mind and, until we acknowledge and listen to what our body is telling us, coping with it can be challenging. Stay tuned for our next post on 5 different ways to help you cope homesickness!
Have you experienced homesickness? Do you feel unprepared to cope with it at university? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!
By Chandni Khan