When you are reading this, I will be sitting on my plane back to Hong Kong. I am writing these lines while sitting at the airport in San Francisco and it is hard to believe that it has already been eight weeks since I arrived here. I said goodbye to my lovely roommate this morning at 4am before she headed to the airport. After hugging all my other friends at Stanford, I left the campus around noon.
I want to use this article to talk about saying goodbye to friends and family. Many of my future first years who will join LPCUWC this year will have to say goodbye to their friends and family soon and I know that this can be scary. This year, I have not spent more than five weeks with my family and friends in Germany and keeping in touch while living in different times zones is hard.
When people talk about spending time abroad, they talk about experiences in their host country, but not many talk about the cries you cry before boarding a plane or in the afternoon when you really want a sleepover with your best friend but she is thousands of miles away. I do not want to lie, these moments are tough. And they do not get easier. But they make you a lot stronger. You learn to be more independent and to make new friends. Making new friends does not mean to replace your other friends, it simply means making more friends.
Anyone can get homesick. Whether you get homesick or not is not a question of weakness or strength. It simply depends on us and on how we deal with a new situation. It is absolutely ok if you are homesick, but it is also ok if you are not. I am pretty lucky because I usually do not get homesick, but I know that some of my friends struggle with homesickness. My advice for curing homesickness is to put yourself out there: Explore your new environment, get to know the people in this part of the world and make new friends. I would also recommend reducing the contact to people at home over a short period of time until you feel like you have settled in and you are more comfortable in your new home. I would reduce contact with loved ones at home because constant communication makes you aware of all the little things that you are missing at home and keeps you from experiencing all the little things that are waiting for you in your new home.
I also want to say that it is absolutely fine if you find out that spending time abroad just isn't for you and you return home. It is perfectly possible that you think going abroad might be cool but it just does not work out. But in order not to regret the choice to return, I would recommend staying at least a month. And really trying to become a part of your new community in that month. If you do not like being away from your familiar environment after that time, you will never have to ask yourself the question if it would have worked out if you had just tried.
And here is the last thing that I want to highlight: Every goodbye leads to a hello. Whenever I say goodbye to my family and friends in Germany, I visit another place and I meet new people. Goodbyes are an indicator that you are on your way of adding people to your list of friends. And although goodbyes can break our hearts, they should also fill them with joy because they mean that we are going somewhere else, we are going to learn something new there and we will meet new people. And every goodbye we say gives us an opportunity to return and say hello again.
Lots of Love,