India / Southeast Asia

A Guide to Homesickness (or how to fall in love with India all over again)

Right around this time in the program, with about one month to go, it seems like it is almost guaranteed that a person will be hit with homesickness. The newness and freshness of the first month has worn off, the excitement that you can now successfully catch a rickshaw, haggle for a kurta and walk 30 minutes across the city without directions has lost its appeal and the little place in your mind that has been thinking of home since August has taken over.

I felt pretty homesick last week, as I think most people in the program did. Studies were finally kicking into high gear and the thought of going home to a host mom and dad, rice and dhal for dinner and a crummy night’s sleep on a bed of mats was suddenly not so enticing. I didn’t know how I would make it another full month before seeing the Atlantic Ocean, going home to my real mom and dad, eating gluten-free mac n’ cheese for dinner and having a restful night’s sleep on my comfy bed at home. (It didn’t help that the Red Sox were in the series and I left my baseball cap at home…)

While there’s no one stop cure for home sickness, no matter what the ayurvedic doctors here might tell you, these are the things that got me through last week and gave me fresh energy and excitement for the last month of the program.

1. Comfort Food. Wherever you can get it, and however you can get it, something about the ritual of eating some of your favorite meals or snacks is one of the best quick fixes for homesickness. For me it’s pasta, but since I can’t find gluten-free pasta here usually, I will settle for risotto. The peeps and reeses that came in my Halloween care package were a big bonus. And if you can manage to get your hands on home-made cookies shipped all the way from home that’s even better. But after you indulge in your comfort food, it’s important to rediscover what you loved so much about Indian food to begin with. Because Indian food (especially South Indian food…in my humble opinion) is absolutely delicious.

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2. Love from Home. Unfortunately, you have no control over this, but for me a big part of what got me through last week were a few care packages and letters from friends. It’s incredible how quickly seeing someone’s handwriting and reading about their life can fill you up like a meal and give you energy to keep going. The home-made sweets don’t hurt the cause either.

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3. Asking yourself what you’ll miss. I’ve started doing this the past couple of weeks, making a mental note of the little things that I have stopped appreciating that I know I will miss when I get back to America. From taking a rickshaw home at night flying past the Diwali lights in the city, to seeing the staff at ACM every morning, to grabbing a quick lunch at Baba’s with friends… the list gets longer every day.

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4. Watching “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” It could be anything, but this movie in particular reminds me of all of the reasons I chose to come to India. When I was sick of the traffic, the constant beeping and the stares, this movie made me fall in love with the country all over again. The chaos, the colors and the people make India the beautiful place that it is and I needed a little reminder of that.

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5. Reminding yourself to live in the present. This one is a little tricky and, to be honest, it’s kind of hard to remind yourself of this. For me, it was helpful to hear from other girls who had studied abroad in letters. They reminded me to enjoy every moment of being here because it goes by too quickly, they told me that although I may miss life at school now when I return I can’t get back the moments I spent thinking of home while I was in India. And they reminded me that spending 3.5 months in India is really dang exciting and adventurous! And that I am incredibly lucky to be able to do this.

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