For IS students, final exams are right around the corner, and they’re the last push of the semester. But for international students, like me, the feeling of homesickness is creeping up as well.
When I was a kid growing up in Aruba, I had a great time. I mean, who wouldn’t be, when on a beautiful island? As I got older though, during my teenage years, I started feeling as if I was stuck. Every day was the same boring old routine, going to school then back home, followed by whatever the extracurricular activity of the day was. Of course, living there my whole life, I had experienced everything the island had to offer, so nothing was new and exciting anymore.
Nearing the end of high school, I was so eager to graduate and move abroad to the Netherlands, since that’s what the majority of high school graduates from Aruba do. I couldn’t wait to move to a bigger country with more opportunities. The prospect of traveling around Europe especially excited me. But a reality check came sooner than I thought – I didn’t anticipate that I would ever feel homesick, especially so early on.
As sad and anxious as I was when I was about to hop on a plane leaving the home I’ve always known, at the same time I was excited for the new adventures ahead. And when I arrived in the Netherlands, I was still so ecstatic to experience the new country, since it was also my first time ever. But as soon as the first winter arrived, homesickness hit. It was so cold, and sometimes it being windy and rainy doesn’t help either. I had to wear multiple layers, which I wasn’t accustomed to either. Even after a few years living here I still don’t fare well in the cold. I missed the sunny, warm days that I knew from Aruba, where in all-year long 30 degree Celsius weather, wearing a short-sleeve top and shorts was enough. I longed for the beach, where I would float in the bluest sea or sit on the soft, white sand with the sun beaming on me with a gentle breeze from the wind. I missed my mom’s home-cooked meals, going out to nibble on truck food with friends, and just eating food from Aruba in general. And as silly as it sounds, I missed driving a car. Even though the public transport in the Netherlands is pretty good, driving just gives a different feeling. When my friends would go to visit their home during the semester, because they’re from the Netherlands or Europe, I would feel envious, because I wished I could do that, but it’s hard with an expensive plane ticket and 10 hours plane ride.
Life was much simpler back in Aruba, where I didn’t have to stress about adult-ing. However, I don’t regret moving either, I’ve had great opportunities and education so far, and I’ve traveled to amazing new places that I used to dream of. Even so, homesickness still hits me now and then, some moments more than others. Eventually, I had to learn how to deal with the homesickness. So, here are some tips that helped me personally:
- Hanging out with my friends often
- Go look for restaurants of Aruban food in the Netherlands
- Cook and eat Aruban food self
- Go to Aruban organized events
- Whenever it’s sunny in the Netherlands, go outside and enjoy it
- Video call family and friends back in Aruba
- And, whatever makes me happy at the time, to be honest
For those going home to do their final exams online, how lucky you are. For the others waiting until after final exams to go, just a few more weeks. We’ll be home soon. Good luck to you all with your final exams, we can do this!
by Jenny Ho
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Images from Unsplash