A Home Away From Home

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Moving out from home and entering a new area where nothing is familiar is scary. It’s easy to say before we leave that we will be fine and we won’t miss home, but like traditions being passed down, the feeling of homesickness is felt by almost every first-year student when they enter their hostel.

My college has a PG system, much more different from a hostel system, but the feeling of homesickness is still the same. I was one of those students who was determined to leave home and stay in a hostel, the freedom that came with it was far too tempting. Every day after I got admission into my college, I would tell them “I can’t wait to leave, finally a way for this place”. I remember repeating this so many times, it became a daily chant.

WHEN HOMESICKNESS SETS IN

Fast-forward to when I began my first week of college, it seemed to be going well, I focused on what I was learning and was in the process of making friends. Then the weekend came and, we didn’t receive much homework so it was free, and then, the feeling of totally cluelessness set in and I became aware of this unknown atmosphere. This was the minutest form of homesickness. I then began to miss my friends back at home, because usually my weekend was spent with them, I missed waking up to the usual noises of clattering pans while my mom was making breakfast. This for me was stage two where I missed my old routine. Stage three, according to me, the epitome of homesickness is the feeling of being done with this place and wanting to return home to the known, the familiar and in a way a return to one’s safe zone.

HOMESICKNESS 101

The one thing I did wrong and later corrected myself for was holding onto my chant “Finally away from this place”. I took this in the literal sense and made myself think, “I’m in this situation feeling homesick and all alone”. I didn’t bother even once to pick up the phone and call my parents and simply talk to them, and if needed cry to them that I missed home. I believed that now that I’m here I need to love this place no matter what, not realising that it will take time to get used to.

For all the students who see moving into a hostel or PG, my advice is to keep in touch with your close friends. Don’t just text them, but give them a call, hearing that familiar voice can calm you down and also elevate your mood. While you might find it difficult to always talk to your friends, remember that your family is always there and you can talk to them anytime you want. Don’t hesitate to call them, even if you end up crying and saying you want to come back. Keeping in touch with everyone back HOME will reduce your longing to go back because in a way you feel connected rather than isolated and distanced from them.

TO DO: STAY ENGAGED AND PRODUCTIVE IN COLLEGE

Being in a design school is much more different from being in an engineering or medical school. During my first year, which I just completed, I finished my class work and homework in such a way that I almost always had my weekends free. If you’re like me moving to a new city away from parents then a good way to spend your weekends is to explore the city you live in. Take it slow and explore the various eateries that are in and around your area at first. While eating at Mc’ Donald’s is fun, trying out the local food is a new experience. Since I was in a PG and my college was further away, I would spend my evening walking around the area finding new paths and new landmarks. It helped me familiarise myself with the area faster. A good way to spend the weekend and also not feel homesick is to go and visit people in their rooms or PG’s. You will make a new friend and at the same time occupy your mind with thoughts other than those related to homesickness. While most of these activities are related to spending time in and around your area, another good way to spend your time is to go to the city. Knowing the city, you live in is important.

 If you’re in a college like mine where at times they require you to go and work in the city then knowing your way about is necessary. Taking the local transportation like metro (if your college is located in a city that has a metro) or a bus is helpful. One: it helps you memorise the stops and landmarks and two: as compared to a cab it’s much cheaper (knowing that we hostel and PG students are on a budget when we come here). At times living in a different city also poses problems such as language barriers with locals (I faced such a problem since I moved to Bangalore and didn’t speak Kannada). Learning the very basics of the language will be helpful in communicating with the locals. During the weekends rent a cycle and ride around the area with some of your friends: exercise and fun combined! PG life is more varied as compared to a hostel life, so for those who live in a PG, choose a weekend where you and your roommates or flatmates cook a meal.

The way we function to keep ourselves occupied is nearly similar to back at home so my advice is to simply accept the change in your own time and you will be fine and happy.

GIVE IT TIME – EMBRACE COLLEGE

During my first year, I experienced homesickness for a couple of months but I realized after making a couple of friends and familiarizing myself with my surroundings that college life is similar to living at home but with a dash of responsibility and freedom.