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Avina Motdhare

I am a 20 something student at the University of Queensland, pursuing my masters degree in Marketing & Advertising.

How to beat homesickness at university

Ever since I started applying for universities, I was sure about one thing, I had to get away.

And this was not because I disliked my homelife or I was a rebellious teen, I just wanted to move out of my little cocoon and feel independent and ‘grown up'. Little did I know, how much I was going to miss home, and coming back to mum's hugs.

Consequently, I decided to move away, far away, to the other side of the world. When I arrived Australia seemed lovely, but it wasn't home yet, and I felt as if I did not belong here. As a fresher in university, I can say that I have experienced my share of homesickness. From coming back home to a family, I came back to an empty room, with everyone else minding their own business. This feeling heightened up because of my introverted and shy nature.

I often remained in bed sulking, whilst looking at old pictures of friends and family, reminiscing the old times back home. It was all tougher than I had imagined. I was cooking, cleaning, and looking after myself for the first time in 20 years. A little sprout of sadness started growing inside me, and my heart felt heavy.

A month had passed by and I finally decided to do something about it. I approached a therapist at my university's clinic, and it was the best decision I made. On speaking to her, I realised that it could happen to the best of us and is very much curable and temporary.

After speaking with her, here are a few things I incorporated in my life, and trust me, I felt like a new person altogether.

First, acceptance.

I often felt silly and stupid   for feeling sad about missing home and constantly beat myself about it. However, I let go of that, and allowed myself to feel sad. I accepted that feeling the way I did was okay. Ever since then, I developed a different perspective on homesickness.

I began appreciating things like mum's food and family time. I would often call mum and ask for recipes of my favourite dishes. Soon after, I cooked most of my favourite meals, and within no time I was a Masterchef!

Second, get out there, and talk to people!

Undoubtedly, this was the toughest thing to do. I was in a new country, with people from all over the world. Nothing or nobody seemed familiar.

I thought about it and realised I was surrounded by people who were likely going through the same thing as me. I let down my guards and tapped my social butterfly-ness. I began striking a conversation with my housemates, classmates and even random people at the gym. I let go off the awkwardness and the feeling of being judged. This helped me find some people who shared similar interests as me, and eventually, I was building a friend-family.

Embrace the Aussie way of living

Now that I had found my ‘mates', we started exploring this beautiful country. We often indulge in hearty brunches at Southbank, hike at Mount Tamborine, or just randomly visit the gorgeous beaches of Noosa and Byron Bay to take surfing lessons. I also witnessed the infamous State of Origin rugby game and have picked up bits of the Aussie slang.

With time, I developed a sense of familiarity. I felt as though things were falling into place and I was finally adjusting. Ultimately, there was a feeling of belongingness, and it was starting to feel a lot like a home. I felt like I was actually growing up.

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