Rachel Goh - “Coping with homesickness”

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Rachel Goh

Rachel has travelled from Singapore to study Psychology at the University of Otago. She is often seen running around campus juggling various commitments. 

The year 2017 signals the start of my 8th year in Dunedin. Time really flies by, huh? It feels like yesterday when I was this shorthaired little girl wondering what a cheese roll tasted like and not knowing how to get to places. And now here I am, shoulder length hair, inhaling cheese rolls (and every food in sight for that matter), and also knowing the campus inside out.

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Lots of things have changed since 2010 - Hoyts has been replaced by Reading Cinemas, the bubble-tea shop “5o9” I used to work at is now a Student Flight Centre, Otago Foundation School has moved to the stadium… Some things remain consistent though – Chopsticks is still present and good, the International Food Festival is going strong, and I still get bouts of homesickness.

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“Wait a minute.” You may ask, “you still get homesick after 7-8 years?” 

Yes, I still do, and it sucks. It happens to the best of us sometimes, even to someone who has been here for as long as I have. Because, at the end of the day, home is still home and certain characteristics are irreplaceable.I miss my family and their comfortable presence, I miss my best friends and our ability to speak without words, I miss my Archie Comics collection just right next to my comfy childhood bed, I miss the glorious Singapore food that you can get within walking distance, I even miss the Singapore heat during the cold Dunedin months…. I miss a lot of things about Singapore even

I miss my family and their comfortable presence, I miss my best friends and our ability to speak without words, I miss my Archie Comics collection just right next to my comfy childhood bed, I miss the glorious Singapore food that you can get within walking distance, I even miss the Singapore heat during the cold Dunedin months…. I miss a lot of things about Singapore even till this day.

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I know I’m incredibly lucky to be able to go back to Singapore every summer, but one tends to forget when you are feeling miserable in another country.

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Skype and FaceTime are great and all, yet there are days where a face on the screen cannot compensate for the overwhelming missing piece you feel.

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Thankfully it gets better with time, and there are ways to lessen the blow. It may or may not work for you, but here are 5 ways I do to cope with homesickness:

Stop, breathe, and tell yourself how blessed you are to be here

Coping strategy 1 may sound like a real cop out, but this psychology student knows what she is talking about at times. I know it is easier said than done but sometimes redirecting your thoughts can do wonders. Your mind is a really powerful tool and you will be surprised at what it can do.

For me, the first thing that comes to mind is one of the greatest lessons my parents have taught me which is to never ever take your life for granted. So I always tell myself that not many people have the chance to study overseas and to experience such a beautiful country. You made a choice to be independent from home, and it is going to be a fantastic learning experience.

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