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Ida’s Column – December 2012

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It comes like a thief at night. Silently and treacherously just when I think it’s safe to breathe.

I get homesick.

Of course I’ve been prepared for this. I read every article and did the research. I know it’s alright to feel homesick. Still, nothing prepared me for this amount of melodramatics. My flatmates go home for the weekend and I feel jealous. I hear there’s already snow at home and my chest aches because I’m not there to see it. My problem is that I always try to rationalize my feelings, come up with reasons. I thought I’d share them.

There is a broad list of reasons for homesickness shown on the internet: Distance from home, a sense of anticlimax etc. Also, another matter worth mentioning while talking from an international student’s point of view is cultural shock. There are often feelings of confusion, sadness and loneliness, amongst many others when adjusting to a new culture.

Culture shock has five known stages:

  1. The ‘honeymoon’ stage. Differences between cultures seem exciting and exotic.
  2. The ‘distress’ stage. Differences in the new culture start clashing with familiar ways of thinking/acting. Feelings of confusion and isolation may occur.
  3. The ‘reintegration’ stage. Rejection towards the new systems encountered. Anger, frustration or hostility towards new culture are possible.
  4. The ‘autonomy’ stage. The differences and similarities are accepted. You might start feeling relaxed, confident and able to cope with the new experiences.
  5. The ‘independence’ stage. The differences and similarities are valued and important. You might feel you’re ready to take over the world.

All the info above was provided by the International office. The remedies are quite simple: talking about your feelings and accepting them. Of course you don’t remember this when your flatmates leave for home when you can’t. Some days every misfortune is a proof of not coping. Is this what I came here for? Then I get a text or a call from home. My friend passed her driving test. Dad saw a fox on his way to work. Then I remember. I’m not alone. They are with me.

If you’re still feeling blue, why not take part in the British Tea Experience organised by International School and local churches? The idea is very simple: Local families kindly invite international students over for tea. What’s not to like? If you’re interested, please send an email to m.vittori@bangor.ac.uk.

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About Author

Ida Väisänen

Deputy Editor: Design 2014/15, TV Editor 2013/14

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