Combatting Homesickness as a....Junior?
It's been a tough year to be an international student. My family is based in Singapore, which means that they are no longer "just" a 30-hour plane ride away – I would have to go through a two-week hotel quarantine to get into the country. Last time I was in Singapore was in January of 2021 – almost ten months ago. Me and my best friend Sophie Inkster had braved the quarantine together to go back home for Christmas after Fall Term 2020, but I've been on campus since then. Homesickness and burn out have certainly set in at this point.
I've found that Dartmouth has an incredible community of international students that have served to support me through the past year. We've got about 10 students from Singapore at Dartmouth currently – two of whom went to my own high school! It's hard to put into words the degree to which having a community like this on campus has made this past year bearable. Throughout the Fall, Winter, and Spring we hosted Singapore get togethers at my off-campus house and are in the process of planning for our first dinner together this term. I've been lucky enough to have my little sister join this little group as a 25, along with one guy who did national service for two years and a girl from a local school.
Battling homesickness has been hard but facetimes with parents (made a little more difficult with the twelve-hour time difference) as well as seeing extended family has made it doable. This weekend my aunt and uncle drove up from Connecticut with my 9-year-old cousin Finn to visit for the day. We grabbed lunch in town, showed them around campus, and most importantly, introduced Finn to everyone in sight. He was a huge hit.
When I was going on five months without seeing my parents in May, a Dartmouth '20 told me that one of the things that helped her deal with homesickness was eating good food from home. While Hanover doesn't have the hawker centers of Singapore, there is one exceptional Chinese restaurant called Han Fusion that offers relatively great xiao long bao, Taiwanese soup dumplings that were a staple for me and my friends growing up. Another technique for dealing with homesickness is hanging out with the parents of friends when they come up to Hanover to visit. I've found that my friends parents are so quick to adopt me as their own and make me feel both loved and cared for.
College has its ups and downs, and just like summer camp, homesickness never quite goes away! That being said, everyone is in the same boat, and there are communities on campus to support you as you navigate this transition to living independently.