Struggling with homesickness and missing what feels familiar

Graphic by Alan Li

My mom makes the best lasagna. The kind that I cannot find anywhere else. It’s fresh, homemade and personalized to my taste – in other words, it’s perfect.

This past year has brought a tremendous amount of change in my life. I have learned how difficult living away from home can actually be. But, more importantly, I have struggled with this question: what does home really mean to me?

There’s no simple answer to a question like that. After all, in its purest from, home is just a geographic construct.

I also can’t point to any one thing that I miss the most. But, I do miss living in my old neighbourhood; interacting with my childhood friends and having my family right by my side.

I have simply been living a different lifestyle. Sometimes – especially as university students – we may find ourselves caught between two places. At some point, it’s likely you were nostalgic about something from your past: your friends, your family, your favourite futon, or your pet dog, just to name a few.

When something significant happens in my life, my parents are the first people I tell. Now it’s different, they aren’t physically there to ask me how my day went each night. In that sense, the distance has proven to be emotionally difficult.

Don’t get me wrong, my time in university has been quite enjoyable. I have met so many new people and learned so much along the way.

As any incoming first year, I was excited about starting the university experience. Part of the reason I chose Laurier was for its community feel. It helped ease my transition as everyone was incredibly welcoming. This made me feel like I belonged here. It brought a sense of comfort – and for that, I am thankful.

Life goes on and I think that’s the hardest thing. You will lose touch with some of your old friends and you will get nostalgic. Most of this is just inevitable, we just have learn to deal with it.

However, living away from home has also been quite exhilarating. Certain things that I took for granted aren’t there anymore. I now have to manage my own finances and learn how to make my own food. Trust me, after a while you get tired of fast food, no matter how appealing it seems.

While these changes have admittedly been difficult, they have shaped  me into the person I am today. I have learned an enormous amount of life skills.  For instance, I have become more self sufficient when it comes to day to day tasks. I have also learned the importance of planning and organization.

There are all skills that I may not have developed – at least fully – if I hadn’t lived on my own.

Now, I am lucky enough to say that the city I call home is only a couple of hours from Waterloo. So, it’s always just a Go Bus away.

But sometimes, especially on the days when academics are proving difficult and there are so many other commitments piling up, I cannot help but miss home.

Living away from home can feel overwhelming at times and this can lead to anxiety. However, It has proven invaluable in my development as a person. Just give it some time.

It took me awhile  to realize that it’s okay to feel homesick. During the early days of first year, I realized that confining yourself to your room is not the best idea. Go explore, meet new people, try new things. Distract yourself.

One thing I always try to remember is that what I left behind was the past. Yes, that was then and it was great. But, this is now. It’s as simple as that: the memories I left behind, help me cherish them even more.

In other words, the distance makes you appreciate and value the time you get to spend with your family just a little bit more. It means there’s something to look forward to.

At some point, you have to realize that moving out of the home in which you grew up is not the end. It’s just the beginning of a new chapter. You can live this chapter any way you choose. Don’t ever let someone tell you how to live your life.

Life goes on and I think that’s the hardest thing. You will lose touch with some of your old friends and you will get nostalgic. Most of this is just inevitable, we just have learn to deal with it.

My experiences with homesickness have ultimately taught me how to live in the moment. You are here now and that’s really all you can control. So, at least make sure you enjoy the ride. 

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