Every year, thousands of eager Indian students arrive in the USA to live their American dream. However, as one settles in and the initial excitement and exhaustion of orientation week dies down, homesickness kicks in. It especially hits hard during Thanksgiving and the short break around it when everyone around you is making plans to go home to be with their family.
1. Actively make plans with friends — go out, explore the city – sitting alone and idle in your room will only feed your homesickness. Make sure to surround yourself with company that makes you happy and comfortable.
2. Eat/Cook a good meal: get some Indian students from the campus together and either go out for a nice Indian meal or cook one together – sitting around a table and enjoying some good food and engaging in some vernacular banter shall definitely help with the blues.
3. I am a huge believer in the principle of not staying alone in your room unless you have to study or sleep. Do not come back to you room and Netflix – take an interest in activities on campus, attend events, concerts, make that schlep to the city. The more you take interest, the more friends you will make, thus making your transition easier.
4. Visit a family member or friends from home. Often students have a family connection near their campus or have friends from home studying in other colleges – make an effort to take a trip or plan something with them. Meeting people with whom we share familial roots gives so much comfort!
5. FaceTime /Skype home – call your parents/siblings/best friends and share with them your day – going through the motions with them really makes you feel like you aren’t left out and your family is also experiencing your day with you.
6. Make it a point to attend cultural events on campus – attending the Puja during Diwali and participating in the colour run during Holi ensures that you have happy memories of the festivals and feel connected to a community that represents and shares your identity! In addition, attend cultural events of other communities – you shall celebrate and feel ties to so many other communities, thus enhancing your ability to integrate into the community.
7. You can only counteract homesickness by ensuring that you don’t deal with it alone – undergraduate life is hectic and everyone is busy in their own activities. That doesn’t mean that your friends don’t care or don’t have the time to hangout – however, you must also take initiative to make plans, reach out to others when you are feeling low, and lean on others for support and comfort. Do not be afraid to ask for help or acknowledging that we may sometimes need someone to lean on.