Before starting my exchange, both UoA and HKU made a big presentation about culture shock, homesickness and adapting to the new environment. At the time I really didn’t think these things would affect me, and for the most part I guess didn’t, but it’s because I adopted these techniques, (some real, some that I made up 🤫). In hopes that some of you who may also be far from home might benefit, I’ll list them here:
- Do things that are low effort and make you happy.
When I first came to Hong Kong, I downloaded about 15 episodes of ‘If you are the one’ and watched one or two every night for a week. Mindless TV that I rarely watched in New Zealand suddenly became my coping mechanism. As dumb as it sounds, it did its trick as I always had a good laugh before bedtime. Point is, our goal is to release some endorphins, if you’re feeling good and your mind is preoccupied with something like cat videos, or rereading the Harry Potter series, there’s less room for you to feel homesick.
- Make some friends.
Join orientation events, meet people, find friends to hang out with. As an introvert, I love my alone time, but that being said I also love hanging out with people. If you can, try to always find a friend to eat with, go supermarket shopping with, attend class with. Whenever I’m feeling sad or homesick, hanging out with friends, especially the goofballs, always makes me feel better.
- Maintain a routine.
Eat. Sleep. Move. Make sure you’re doing all of these! I’ll be the first to admit I have a serious issue of getting to sleep way, way too late. I’m not even doing anything important, I just don’t feel like sleeping? It’s now priority number one to sleep early, so check back on me in a month 😛. Eating and moving are equally as important. Holing yourself up in your room, surviving on snacks, bread and cup noodles is not the way to go.
- Don’t put so much pressure on yourself.
This one I think I made up, but like the title says, don’t put so much pressure on yourself! When I first arrived in Hong Kong, the thing that made me the most uncomfortable was the pressure I put on myself to make friends (I know, I know defeats my second point, but keep reading!). There’s some unwritten expectation that all exchange students will make heaps of friends and have heaps of fun, and although I think that this is true, I don’t think forcing yourself to make friends is the way to go. Orientation events held by the university are awesome and you do get to meet some great people, but one thing I realised is that unless you live in the same area, have the same classes, or just really hit it off, it’s unlikely you will ever see these people again. Being a person who likes making friends organically in a casual setting, I actually felt stressed at the orientation events, because in my mind these were the people that would be my future friends. In the end though, the only person I’m still in contact with is someone studying the same thing as me, we’re seat buddies now, so good things do come from orientation 😊. All my other friends are people I met organically, either in class or at my hostel, and I’m so extremely happy with the people I’ve surrounded myself with now that it baffles me how anxious I was during my first week in Hong Kong.
- Call/video call home.
Sounds obvious, but sometimes people do forget. If you’re feeling homesick, just pick up your phone and give your parents/friends a video call. Something good happen? Tell them. Something bad happen? Rant to them. Nothing really happened but you just want to call them. Call them!
Phew, its been a while since I’ve made such a big post, but hope you enjoyed! Even if you’re not on exchange but just feeling a little homesick, these tips might help too!
See you in the next one x