As an international student, I have two homes.
I am constantly away from a place I call home. I am away from my family, or away from my friends. Moving halfway across the world for college was difficult. But the most difficult part is getting attached to two places at the same time. At first, I struggled with feeling homesick no matter where I was. I was homesick here because I missed my family, and homesick with my family because I missed Dublin. I felt my heart was in constant battle between the place I grew up and the place I found myself.
It’s strange how a place I moved to as a teenager, alone, with no family or friends, has become a place I grow homesick for.
I sit here writing this, while missing my life. Being home means the constant fear of spreading the virus since I live with so many people, and the chain of infectivity would be so long. Being home means I would lose my mental separation of home and college, of fun and work, of vacation and study. Being home would mean having to re-adapt and readjust my life to fit into what it once was, many years before college. But, being here in Dublin means missing my family. It means spending long hours studying in my own personal bubble. It means attending lectures virtually, and being away from so many friends because they either live far away, or have already left. For a heart like mine, one which is split between two homes, I find myself dwelling in a third location. The location of my past life, the “old normal”.
How do you remedy a heart in a constant state of longing?
I have learned over the years to let myself miss things. Although it might be painful to miss someone or something, you might need to feel it.
I believe being kind to yourself on all days, especially the ones that are the most difficult, is the toughest goal anyone can ever set for themselves.
How to be kind to yourself?
Read something you love, do something you enjoy, and let your emotions flow through you. Indulge in the things you miss. I choose to cook my mom’s recipes for my friends, when I miss home. I take long walks alone, when I miss Dublin. And I call a friend when I miss life before the pandemic. I choose to do things that make me happy and remind me of the reasons why my heart dwells in so many locations.
It’s hard to be away from home. It’s even harder when you create so many homes for yourself. And since home is where the heart is, you will always carry home with you, you just might need to reach in and embrace the warmth that you carry within.