Having lived in the Republic of Congo and the United States to now studying abroad in London, Julia writes about the idea of home and how to stay connected to where you're from and where you're at now. She shares 3 tips to help with homesickness.
I always thought of myself as independent and free like the wind. But when I traded my americano for an earl grey, and my brownies for shortbread, little did I think that I would feel homesick. Not homesick for my first home, but rather for my second: Virginia.
Caption: Julia on a hike in Roanoke, Virginia in 2019.
I have had a complicated relationship with the idea of “home” for as long as I can remember. It did not start when I left my home country, the Republic of the Congo, to come live in the United States in 2016. It goes back to when I was five or six years old when I went to spend nights, summers, or afternoons, at my uncles’ or aunts’ houses. I would be happy and enjoy the time with my cousins until I wasn’t. Homesickness was a sort of coat that I always had on me. The kind you fold and keep in your bag until you are cold.
At this point, you must be wondering how I have fared for over five years of living in the United States as an immigrant. You may even ask yourself, “What about that homesickness coat?” or “Do you still carry this coat?” The answer to these questions is simple: yes, I still carry the coat. I have been carrying it for years now, and I have been carrying it so much that I have come to forget that I have it in my bag.
Perhaps homesickness gets better with time, or when finding a sense of belonging in one’s new environment. Personally, I am convinced that it is like a tattoo. Permanent. It is similar to a chronic disease, of which you can ease the pain using Advil or Tylenol from time to time, thus you just have to find your medication for homesickness
Do you want to know what works for me?
(Note: what works for me might not work for you, however, you won’t know unless you try.)
1. Stay Connected
Caption: Blogger Julia reading Petit Pays (Small Country) by Gaël Faye.
When I say to stay connected, I do not mean keeping your T-Mobile plan—although, you might want to—rather, I mean that you must stay connected to your home(s). What acts as a bridge from you to your home(s)? Is it music? Literature? Food? Cinema? News? People? Whatever keeps you connected to your home(s) will help you ease any homesickness you may be feeling. For me, it is literature and music. I read in French, which keeps me connected to my home country, the Republic of Congo, but I also listen to some of my favorite American artists, which keeps me connected to my second home, the US.
2. Create a Home-like Environment
At home, my bed has a built-in bookshelf in the headboard, so I sleep with books right on top of my head. Though I do not have a similar headboard in my flat here in London, I found a way to put many books next to where I lay my head at night to create a home-like environment.
As you prepare to go abroad, you could try packing an item of sentimental value such as a blanket or a decoration item from your room at home.
3. Don’t Just Stay in Bed!
Caption: Exploring Brighton, England.
Last but not least, don’t spend all your free days in bed! Remember that you are having a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You are in a beautiful global city, and you better be exploring it. You might end up feeling at home! If you are intimidated by your global city, reach out to your CAPA Pal, some classmates, your flatmates, or anyone on the CAPA team to go explore with you!
I hope these tiny tips will help you feel a little less homesick. And if they don’t, do not hesitate to contact someone on the CAPA Team. They are there to help you.
Julia Mouketo is an official CAPA London blogger for fall 2021, sharing her story in frequent posts on CAPA World. A communication studies major from Hollins University, she is studying abroad in London this semester.
Julia's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.