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37th issue by NTCN on January 2014

Homesickness was my worst enemy in Taiwan. The moment I set my foot in this place, I felt lost, left out, ejected and all I wanted was to go back home, unfortunately I had no option but to stay and achieve my goals for coming here. I had no choice but to live within the situation. A lot of issues around made me miss home and if the chance was availed to me, I would go home indeed. The first thing that I thought of was the social media. Utilization of social media like facebook, wattsup, gtalk, Viber and skype was the solution to my homesickness. I use it often to keep in touch with friends and family. I asked them to use my laptop at home where I would talk to everybody and see them through skype. They update me about all interesting things and they send me pictures. I made a vow that atleast once a month I spend 340.00NTs just to communicate with family and friends. My calculations revealed that it is just 2.26% of the stipend which is not too much to ask for just to be home away. I knew I was lost so I had to make a brand new start in life. I started as a tourist by going to the most popular places and its attractions to get to know the city like a vacation right in the beginning. My first tour was going to Taipei. The main aim was to essentially get to know the country's culture and history right away which I achieved as it was part of the agenda for the briefing conference.

Since the moment that I was informed about the acceptance to study my Master Degree in Taiwan, I was pretty excited but at the same time worried about what was going to happen in the near future out of my country as well as sad because I was going to leave my family and all friends that I used to hang out with.

One month before I came to Taiwan, I was really asking to myself if I wanted to study outside my country. I was thinking that everything was going to be completely different from my country (Nicaragua) about religion, food, culture, etc. Sometimes I felt different feelings that made me think my decision not only once, there were multiple moments. It was a tough decision because the only person who had the answer it was only me because this progress in my life it is going to be representing the future not only for myself or family but also for my country.

Latin American family the majority of the time remain always together. When I was ready to take the airplane I spoke with my sister and suddenly we started to cry. I took the airplane with tears on my eyes thinking that probably I was not going to be with them for along two long years. I was aware that they were wishing the best of the best in this experience.

“I miss my MOM and DAD!” this word is one of my favorite in the first 3 months of my life in Taiwan. Really, even not all is new for me and I used to live without my parents since undergraduate, I feel very homesick. This kind of feeling did maybe because I am living in thousands of miles apart from my parents. I can’t see them whenever I can see them, only can hear their voice and meet via skype. Other reasons are because everything is just different in my point of view. The differences are from meal habit, the design of your room, the way to go to the toilet, learning in classroom again after 2 years break, new friends, weather, and so on.

But the show must go on. I need to tell to myself that this is my choice. Even its very hard and out of my comfort zone, I will do my best and sacrifice the homesickness as a part of my success.

Time flies, finally, I can adapt very well with new condition. These are my tips to overcome home sickness:

Have you ever had one of those terrible-no-good days abroad when you are trying to get the thoughts out of your head, but you can’t find the words in another language? Or a day when you see cute photos tagged on Facebook of your friends from home having fun in your absence? Or maybe you had your terrible-no-good day on Christmas and Happy New-Year in class? That happens in the beautiful Formosa, Taiwan. I do not blame anybody for it anyway but it’s one of the things that make me miss home so much for a joyous Festive season. At the very least homesickness always strikes me when I am sick and wish my mom could be there to make me chicken gravy and constantly ask me how I feel. Wow those are the things you miss with being abroad but no way out I have to cope and that’s called “shape up or ship out” but in a polite sense.

If we talk about homesick, I actually have not fully overcome the homesick. I have not fully feel at home living in a new place far from my relatives, with different situation in culture, food, language etc. But at least I've felt much more comfortable than when I first came in this country, 3 months ago. I actually do not have any special tips, how to reduce or even eliminate homesick. In this paper I will only write about my experience, to make feeling homey stay in the place that is far from my family.

I am 43 years old , come from Indonesia and I am the head of the family, from small family (Wife and 1 doughter, she is 9 years old). In August last year, I succeeded to get a TaiwanICDF scholarship to study in Taiwan. That was encouraging news for me and for my wife. It is pride, can pursue studying at the Overseas, at the famous university, with reputable scholarship, Taiwan ICDF scholarship . But it was not good news for my daughter, because I could not bring my family to live together in Taiwan, and that means I have to separate them for a very long time. She was devastated by my departure to continue the study to Taiwan. Even to this day, she always wears my clothes before going to bed, because of miss me. You can imagine how very difficult for me, my wife, my daughter of course, to deal with this all .

There is no place like home!!!

Coming to Taiwan was a great and overwhelming experience.  The most amazing warm welcome by Taiwanese people made me feel like I’m home.  It’s been three months since I first came here and it has not been as simple as I thought life in Taiwan would be.  Studying abroad has many challenges, being in a completely different place, trying to adapt to the language, culture, environment, and food has been very hard for me more especially because it was my first time to study abroad.  I really enjoyed being in Taiwan for the first two weeks, but ever since the semester began I was already missing home, more especially my parents and my best friends.

After spending more than a year in Taiwan, already there is that feeling of finding a place for myself, a second home. Being oceans away from home for the first time, definitely comes with a number of things, like having to adjust to a different culture, learning system, making a lot of personal decisions, and embracing the new company of the friends I have just met from around the world. The greatest feeling I thrive on the most is the whole experience of just being distant from home.

However, sometimes I miss being with the people closest to my life, family and friends and just seeing the surroundings I have lived in my entire life. Distance and time unfortunately, cannot offer that luxury of heading home whenever the mind gets that nostalgic round. But again, as important those things are to me, I thrive on the realisation of the incomparable and priceless benefits I have already, and still to gain, which I believe is a great experience, one that I would not trade for anything.

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.

Before one can start to overcome home sickness, one must truly understand what homesickness is. According to a paper co-written by Chris Thurber and Edward Walton published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, homesickness is defined as "distress and functional impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home and attachment objects such as parents."  So, it is a distinct adjustment disorder with identifiable symptoms such as withdrawn behaviors, difficulty focusing on topics unrelated to home, and other depressive and anxious symptoms. But some psychologists say that homesickness isn't necessarily about home. Instead, it stems from our instinctive need for love, protection and security; feelings and qualities usually associated with home and when these qualities aren't present in a new environment, we begin to long for them and hence we begin to long for home. So at the end of the day, you’re not literally missing your house or your spouses’ house, your missing what is normal and routine to you. The larger sense of social space, because those are the things that help us survive.

When I processed the words overcoming homesickness in my exhausted cerebrum, nothing immediately came out. If I may be completely blunt, when I received this email about this TICA article I was under the convoluted and discouraging demon depression. My reasons extended from a confluence of inauspicious feelings relating to horrendously failing a mid-term exam and missing those who I love when I need them the most. At that point in time, the negative ions seemed ubiquitous even in the places that should always be colorful. Black was only black and there was no white. I tried to get some sleep but somehow my stressed subconscious manifested itself into headache and confusion. It is said that home is where the heart is, but how do you even begin to make your journey towards your home if your heart has been obliterated by failure? The situation then becomes an unsolved paradox. For some unknown reason, I decided to start this article there and then.

The beauty about pain is that it enables the soul to filter out hypocrisy while generating absolute truth and one must use that time wisely to find peace in pain. I believe that the best way to maximize the utility of that time is to put pen to paper and write. I am not sure if this article makes any sense to anybody considering that I’m talking about how I felt while writing this article which appears retarded, but beauty comes from strange places.