As the title suggests, I am going to be discussing my experience with homesickness during my time abroad here in Japan. As one can imagine, Japan is very different from the U.S., both culturally and socially. Being Haitian-American, this culture is even further from my norms. Add in a completely different environment – from hot, sunny Florida to cloudy and snowy Akita – and it’s the perfect recipe for homesickness, right?
I Did Not Get Homesick
Yes, you read that right. I did not get homesick. This is another side of a common topic that I feel is important to mention. I was told constantly before coming to Japan that homesickness would be a very real experience. The list of signs and symptoms were given to me along with words of caution. In orientation, I was told that homesickness sometimes develops backwards, where the peak of my experience would last longer than usual, only to plummet down into depression, irritability, and a strong dislike of my surroundings. Even after arriving at AIU, I was given a lecture about the signs and symptoms and encouraged to visit the counselors office, should I need anyone to talk to.
I. Experienced. Nothing.
As Time Went On…
The semester started and I settled into my living space and community. I noticed the symptoms in some of my friends; the irritability, difficulty sleeping, and depression. I did my best to comfort them and ultimately guided them to the counselors office. I went about my college life normally. I went class, turned in assignments, attended club activities, and went out with friends. Just as I adapted to my environment, it began to snow. I was excited, but worried about how my body would handle to temperatures yet to come.
Still, I felt nothing.
Is Something Wrong With Me?
I found myself waiting for it to hit me at any moment, as if it was a given; a promised part of my study abroad experience. And for a while, I thought something was wrong with me. Even now; as the semester wraps up, with finals completed and friends leaving for their homes, I still feel nothing even remotely close to homesickness. I am sad that the semester is ending and that my time with these amazing people is nearly up, but I feel no aching need to return home. While I certainly missed things about home, like Hot Cheetos, sunny beach days, and being able to drive; I did not miss home. I still don’t.
I have come to the conclusion that not experiencing homesickness is just as normal as experiencing it. So for all the study abroad hopefuls reading this: while homesickness can certainly be a part of one’s experience, it is not required nor guaranteed. Not experiencing it is normal, and you’ll be just fine. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms and to be ready and willing to ask for help. However, should the symptoms prove to be elusive, don’t linger on it too much, and be sure to enjoy your time abroad!