Wry Exchange

November & December Homesickness Alert
11-11-07, 4:53 pm
Filed under: Depression, Exchange Students, hosting | Tags: , , ,

 It’s time for another bout of homesickness…. sadness…. blahs…. pissyness…don’t feel quite like yourself-itis.   It’s homesickness or culture shock again.   This is typically the final bout of homesickness.  (Culture shock will return as reverse culture shock.)

There are many reasons for this round of misery; for some of you, the days are growing shorter, and you may be experiencing SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)  From the Mayo Clinic:  You may find yourself eating more or sleeping more when the temperature drops and darkness falls earlier. While those are common and normal reactions to the changing seasons, people with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) experience a much more serious reaction when summer shifts to fall and on to winter.   With seasonal affective disorder, fall’s short days and long nights may trigger feelings of depression, lethargy, fatigue and other problems. Don’t brush this off as simply a case of the “winter blues” that you have to tough out on your own.  Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression, and it can severely impair your daily life.

Symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of energy
  • Social withdrawal
  • Oversleeping
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty concentrating and processing information

Other reasons:

  • Prom and graduation time in South America.  The students here in the US have to miss these important rites of passage, and the students in the Southern Hemisphere may be sad to miss their Prom and graduation with their friends in the Spring.
  • It’s The Holidays!  No matter how much you hate turkey and going to your grandparents for Thanksgiving, it’s your tradition.  You will miss it.   Familiar rituals bring comfort.   You are missing the food, decorations, shopping, dances, etc that you grew up with.  You will be affected.
  • Are you bored? Nothing is new anymore, it’s starting to feel like just another day of school, sleep, repeat.  Can you start a new hobby or take classes?  Join a dance or martial arts studio? 
  • How’s the host family? Do you get along with them? Do you love them?  Would you be better off  if you moved?

Just hold on until after New Year’s.  The year starts going so fast after the holidays, and you shouldn’t have anymore bouts of homesickness.  You should start identifying with your new country, and it gets much, much easier.  The advice is the same-don’t drink too much, and keep busy.  If you need to move, tell your counselor.  If you can’t get your coordinator or counselor to help you, have your parents contact the US branch.  Or look up their website, and email them.  Threaten to tell everyone you know that they are not helping you.  Take care of yourself.


2 Comments so far
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Thanks so much for this entry. I really needed it right now as I’m going through this whole “Eh, routine thing” Not only that, but it’s really starting to get cold here now (today was -30C) and it’s so dark, I feel like most of my life is spent in darkness. Nice to be reminded that things’ll be getting better. Thanks again. Have fun in Bolivia!

Comment by Abigail

I’m not an exchange student, but have moved around a lot – Australia, Bolivia, Denmark, Greenland, France to name a few. I never realised how much winter affected me until I travelled to Bolivia just before spring really sprung in Denmark and was amazed at the difference waking up in the light and all of the greenery made to me. Right now it is light from about 10-15 in Greenland, so I’m looking forward to going to Australia in about two weeks, where it is summer.

Comment by Sarah

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