Living life in a new continent, country or environment can be a very refreshing and gratifying experience; however, this experience also comes with its own set of homesickness challenges. I greatly accepted God’s blessing in the form of a scholarship awarded by the TaiwanICDF program.  After arrival one of the most outstanding obstacles that challenged me was to cope with homesickness. Overcoming homesickness is not a reality because I don’t think there is a cure to ever overcome homesickness fully. In my preparation, homesickness was not addressed and after the flurry of activities of settling into my new environment simmered down, I understood the true meaning of what was homesickness.

Determined to rise above the circumstances, I was jolted to reality and understood that my coping strategies had begun even before I touched the soil of my new home and I was unaware of  how helpful the streams of correspondents from Taiwan while I was still in my country Belize. The emails welcoming me to Taiwan and to my university of choice mentally prepared me to eliminate the thought that I would be missing home, family, friends and mode of life. This kind and thoughtful gesture from these Taiwan correspondents was the first step in warming me up to feel welcomed to their country which I would have to adapt as my second home for my study years. Furthermore, I was fortunate with the assignment of a Taiwanese volunteer for international students, a buddy who has not only assisted me in preliminary settling in but has faithfully maintained the friendship by linking up with me on a weekly basis to have dinner and exchange our backgrounds and interests.

As a recipient of a scholarship, my success will depend on how well I cope with the different aspects of being in a new environment and with the absence of realia not seeing the numerous faces I was familiar with, nor eating the food I grew up with, or doing the things I was accustomed to would now depend on substitutes. Packed in my suitcase, were items that would help me be attached as best as possible to home and the people I love and care for. Some of the familiar items included pictures of my family, tokens, spices and hot sauces that were produced in my country so that I’d be able to cook Belizean cuisine and my beautiful flag to represent my country. I take around family pictures and personal tokens with me every day so that every time I open my school bag I am reminded of my loved ones and I feel connected as if I am in their presence. The summersaults and queasy feelings become lighter and I can perform. Thanks to technology, daily communication with loved ones to share information about daily happenings here and home has kept me connected and erased some lamenting of missing out at home. This further helps to ease the transition from home to a new country, school, & dorm life.  At the press of a button for internet connection I was able to keep in touch every single day with my family and boyfriend through email, social networking Facebook and most importantly video chat through the Apple app FaceTime which allowed me to directly feel as if I was back at home in my room, house or vehicle in Belize, being able to see them in motion. In my solitary moments it allowed me to reflect and acknowledge that I was homesick and not being in denial and I was not shame to let everyone know that I was homesick. I posted it on Facebook, talked to my loved ones about it and also my friends at school:  their responses helped to soothe my wound. They made me realize that it was natural and I dwelled on the hope that time would erase that terrible feeling.

Reminiscing Belize is not on the map of Taiwan pushed me to further find similarities that could link me with this new country to my home. Adapting my taste buds to Taiwan cuisine was a bit challenging at first, but after experimenting with many local cuisines in Taiwan I found some that offered cuisines similar to what I could find in Belize. Adapting to Taiwanese made it easier to adapt to my new environment. Setting my mind frame to seek adventure and learn a different way of life in a new land did remove barriers which had caged me in with homesickness.

At school, I was blessed by God’s grace to find a few new overseas friends who seem to value true friendship they have supported me and helped me out in situations we face in a strange country. These friends have been kind enough to either accompany me to venture new places in Taiwan or have been a shoulder to cry on when I’m missing home, or motivate me to keep focused on my goal and purpose of being away from home; for that I am grateful to them.

Homesickness is a very real anxiety issue, but it should not be one to get you depressed or hold you down. There are many ways to stay calm and relax in your new environment. Last but not the least my homesickness is released when I embrace the challenges with an open mind to expect anything, disappointments and happiness. Consider the above tips, and remember that even though you may be away from home, you're still in a place with its own great things to do, with equally amazing people to meet.

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