Homesickness for international students


Adriana Hernandez

International students are prone to feeling homesick due to living far from home.

Studying abroad is challenging. We get into a new society, meet new people and study new things. A common and serious problem for us international students is “homesickness.”

No matter how strong-willed we are, we have at least faced homesickness for once. Homesickness is an emotion where the affected person experiences anxiety, grief or withdrawal with the intense feelings that come with being separated from their loved ones for a certain amount of time.

From my personal experience, I feel lonely and insecure whenever I miss my family and friends. We do not have families or friends with us and we must survive obstacles alone here in the U.S.

Though modern technology can help us connect to our families and friends in a second, the time zone differences can make it difficult to be connected to our loved ones. Most of our families live on the other side of the world, so it is hard for us to call them when we are free because our family members might be sleeping or working.

Even though modern technology can help us to see them through electronic devices, we cannot hug them or get embraced by them. Sometimes after a long stressful day, all we need is a long hug.

It is also hard for us to make friends here, especially in community colleges because we have smaller classes and most of the local students are working. They will leave the room as soon as the class is finished. We can’t find an opportunity to talk or communicate with them outside class.

Although there are many in-person classes at Skyline, the professors separate students in classes due to COVID restrictions so we are not sitting close or behind our classmates. Friendships play a crucial role for those who are studying abroad. Not being able to make any relationships with other students leads to loneliness and homesickness.

Another reason for homesickness is the language barrier. Although we took several English tests such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL), or Duolingo before we came here, it was never our first language. It can be hard to understand the accents of teachers and students.

For example, one time while visiting Verizon the workers did not sell to me because they did not understand what I was saying. At the same time, I did not understand what the staff was saying and it almost led to a fight. This is just one example of how we can have trouble communicating with the local community causing us to gradually become outcasts from society.

Cultural differences can also lead to homesickness. We miss our traditions, food and festivals from our homeland.

For example, my country always has a long holiday in April where we celebrate our New Year by splashing water and doing virtuous deeds. In the United States, my April is loaded with assignments, studies and work. I find it depressing that I will not get a chance to celebrate my New Year.

Most international students miss food from their homelands. Though we can have a variety of food here, it will never be the same as our mothers’ dishes.

The thoughts of missing our friends and family might enter our minds at any minute. It might be in the middle of the class, 3 a.m. in the morning or when we wake up from nightmares. Homesickness is a real issue, affecting international students every single day, that we must raise awareness for.