Whilst other Maastricht students started the final countdown for the exam period, I don’t even acknowledge that I have exams coming up. My only thought right now is that in less than two weeks I will be finally home, with my family. Of course, everyone is waiting impatiently for the Christmas days and spending some quality time with their families and childhood friends – but for me it’s more than just that!
I don’t know how or why (although I can list some solid reasons) but the past two years I happened to spend my Christmas away from home. I spent it on both occasions with friends and amazing people and had a lovely time, I cannot complain. But in all honesty, it is not the same as being home with your own family. I haven’t seen my dear ones since September 2015 – I know, a lot of time, over a year! Whenever I wanted to visit them, something came up: either studying, work or the high price of tickets – something always made me postpone it for yet another couple of months. And I am not going to lie to you – it is hard, extremely hard – a type of feeling that you can understand only if you have to deal with it.
When I mention this to other students, I always get the question: “Aren’t you homesick? How do you deal with it?”, or the common exclamation: “I wouldn’t be able to do it!”. In reply to that, I can only say – of course I am homesick! I love my parents, brother and granddad more than anything on this world and of course it hurts when I cannot be there for them for special occasions or when they have to deal with difficult moments. In terms of how I cope with homesickness, there are a couple of things that help, such as: having daily conversations with my family, filling my room with things and photos that remind me of home, cooking some traditional food or asking Mum for some of the recipes she used to prepare at home, keeping myself busy, and surrounding myself with other people, so that I don’t feel lonely. What doesn’t help me though is hearing wows and rhetorical questions whenever I mention that I haven’t seen them in so long. I don’t care if you wouldn’t be able to deal with a similar situation – it doesn’t make me feel brave or special. It just reminds me of how long has passed since I’ve seen them last and how lonely they must feel without me; it makes me feel guilty that I have not gone to see them in such a long time.
So, honestly, if you have a friend or you know someone who is going through this, don’t go asking if they miss their family, but listen to them if they want to tell you about it. Don’t wow when they tell you when was the last time they have been home, but ask when it is the next time they will go and what are they most excited about. Don’t tell them of how you wouldn’t be able to do it, but ask what they miss the most about home. Don’t be surprised when you see tears in their eyes when you simply mention their family, but give them a hug and tell them that everything is going to be alright. Believe me, there are only a couple of little things that you can do if you want to help, but they do make a difference! And believe me, asking them if they miss their parents is not one of them!