Kelsi Hattaway - “How To Beat Homesickness”
I'm Kelsi and I'm from Redondo Beach, California. For the past five years I've been studying and working in Ireland. I graduated from Maynooth University last October with a BA International in Anthropology and Spanish and I am now at Maynooth getting my MA in Anthropology.
No matter how outgoing or adventurous you might be, everyone gets homesick sometimes. For some, like myself, it can be worse than you thought possible.
I remember before I left for Ireland how excited I was. I was ready to be independent and I laughed at my mom when she told me I would miss California. I hated the heat and how could anything be better than Ireland? I even told my dad not to buy me a flight home in December because I would want to stay and experience an Irish Christmas.
Well, that’s not how it worked out. Less than a month in and I was begging my dad to buy me a flight home for the holidays.
I’m not sure if it was homesickness, culture shock, or just my shy personality that made my first few weeks so difficult, but I was miserable! I was freezing all the time and I swear the rain never stopped! And I knew I would never make friends because I just wasn’t confident enough. And so, for the first few weeks, I wallowed in self-pity.
After those initial weeks, I got over myself, forced myself to join clubs and societies to meet people, and even became a class representative. Once I actually left my room, it was amazing how easy it was to meet people. I found a group of friends that lived locally so I wasn’t on my own every weekend and I began to feel at home.
When I did go back home for the winter break, I couldn’t wait to go back to Maynooth! The next year, I actually got to experience an Irish Christmas and now that I have a job, I don’t go home during the summer either. On the rare occasion, I do make it back to California, I’m homesick for Ireland. I guess there’s no winning…
It’s important to remember that feeling homesick is completely normal. And sometimes, even after five years of living abroad, I still get random waves of homesickness. It passes. Honestly, it does. The most important thing you can do is keep busy. Get out of your comfort zone, meet new people, and enjoy the fact that you have the wonderful opportunity to live in a new and exciting country. Once you find the right people, you’ll start to feel at home.
Working in the International Office, I’ve never heard of any student who regretted staying. I have, however, known quite a few that regret leaving. Don’t be one of those people! Trust me, you’ll be glad you stayed.