20 November 2020
I have plans to travel a lot over the next few years of my life, and I have picked up some techniques to handle change and being far away from home. I call this "carrying my heart with me", or basically making every place I go feel a bit like home. Here's a list of things that have worked for me.
I think this is one of the greatest gifts ever given to mankind. Music can change your whole mood. So when I think I miss home, instead of sulking, I dance it off, work it off, or relax it off while listening to music. I have a playlist of African songs that brings up my mood and gets me dancing. Trust me, it is refreshing. So, invest in good speakers or AirPods to get you back on track whenever you're down.
Schedule calls with family and friends
I know this is an obvious one, but life can get busy sometimes when you're away from home, and taking calls with family and friends back home isn't always as easy as it seems. For starters, the difference in timezones can be annoying. However, I believe if it's important to you, time can be made to catch up at the most convenient time for all parties.
My best friend and I talk almost every day for nearly 30 minutes (sometimes an hour) and they are usually unplanned, spontaneous calls in the hope that we are both free to take the call. On the other hand, I set meeting slots on my calendar or planner to make sure I keep constant communication with my family. I think doing this has helped me stay in touch with home, and video calls help because you get to see your loved one.
Bring special ornaments or goodies from home
Unfortunately I didn't pack many things that remind me of home, but I managed to get a few pictures printed to remind me of the beautiful smiles I left back at home. I also carried my favourite baby blanket and mug, because I love my tea, and I had my family ship me some of my favourite local spices. This was very important for me, because I struggle with adjusting to new food and was finding it hard to enjoy the meals without adding the 'home food' flavour. On the bright side, I have discovered some 'African Shops' that have a wide variety of spices that are similar to those from home, so once my current stock runs out, I know where to go to.
Last but not least, make new friends and step out of your comfort zone!
Edinburgh is full of amazing and kind people. So, join a friend-finding app or dating app (if you're single). The key thing is to make friends, go out, travel, and see new things. Sometimes the homesickness only catches you because you are bored and idle. Beat the boredom by making plans that focus on trying out new things, new food, exploring different cultures. All these things can be done while social distancing and masked up!
So next time you are feeling a little low, try any of my tips and I hope you will be feeling better in a jiffy. Remember the University has a wide range of options that help with mental health. You are never alone.
Josephine is studying for the MSc in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Business School.