Lots of people experience homesickness. It is not discriminatory to age, gender, sexual orientation or race. It is a common and normal feeling for humans to express. Homesickness is not a medical or clinical term so there is no medical examination or medicine that can be prescribed. Instead, it is a feeling of longing for the place that is called home. Culture shock is sometimes used synonymously with homesickness. Professionals and the common individuals all have their varying techniques on how to combat, control, relieve, whatever word one might use, to rid themselves of this phenomena.

Why is it sometimes such a difficult experience to be liberated from? Well, for starters, your home is not just a house or a country you live in. It is the air you breathe, the culture, religious and political beliefs, people you interact with, the list can go on for a while. It is these parameters that encompasses and defines the embodiment of yourself and your home. Hence, when these norms are extricated from your surroundings, you no longer feel a sense of belonging and yearn for familiarities which usually means you miss your home.

Personally, I have experienced homesickness in Taiwan. These are ways of how I learned to overcome them.

Firstly, I have tried profusely to learn the language. Even if it is the basics, it was worthwhile for me to be able to communicate. When I first arrived, the frustration and anger felt from being unable to communicate with Taiwanese was abundant. However, after being able to move from a mandarin level of zero, to knowing something, there was a huge improvement in my attitude. My hopelessness subsided and my life began to feel more coherent.

Secondly, I immersed myself into learning their cultural norms.  I must say, I do not like nor do I understand all cultural aspects of Taiwanese. I find it somewhat restrictive. Nevertheless, cultural knowledge was a valuable tool to assisting me in combating homesickness. Food played an immense role in the development of my learning process. At first, I thought, there is no way I am eating this; it is not conducive with my palate; is it edible? Do they really eat that? I soon learned that I was being judgmental without even tasting the food. Actually, some of the cuisine is delightfully appetizing. All it took was some guts, an open mind and voila!

Thirdly, I tried to make friends of both foreigners and Taiwanese that were capable of speaking my language. I think that above all the other reasons, this was probably the most noteworthy of experiences. When communicating with other foreigners, even though you may hail from different geographical regions of the world, most of the time, your similarities of experiences in Taiwan, coincided. Discussions and problem solving would arise between the groups. This gives you a sense of belonging and is quite effective at loosening you up; making you forget the familiarities of home and embrace your current surroundings.

To conclude, there is no one way or strategy to overcome homesickness. Of course, it helps to have family and friends to talk to, but even when you have this capability, because their tangible presence is not there with you, the experience is often still inadequate for you to cope. Finding your way can take as little as a few weeks to a few months. Try to talk to people and not live a hermit lifestyle because it will just prolong your suffering. Listen to how others cope and develop your own way to cope. What works for one person, might not work for you. Above all else, keep an open mind to the environment that you would now be habituating.

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