Learning to say goodbye

View of aircraft wings from the window

View out the plane window

Last week, I bid my family goodbye as I flew back to Adelaide once again for my studies. I thought seeing their faces disappear as I walked past the Immigration counter would be easier the second time. I was determined not to cry. I mean, why would I, right? This isn’t my first time flying abroad alone. Well, my determination crumbled pretty quickly when I hugged my parents at the departure gate. 

Thankfully, my 7-hour long flight gave me ample time to feel and reflect on my emotions. Here’s what I concluded by the fourth hour: Encountering an emotion once doesn’t necessarily make you an expert in dealing with it but you do get better at understanding it. 

When I left my family for the first time back in 2020 for my first year of uni, I was a mess. Sure, the first month of uni was all fun and games but when the noise dies down, the homesickness gets amplified by miles. It’s like that buzzing “eeeeeee” sound you hear standing in an empty room with the fan off and windows shut. It was always there; it was never really gone.

I called my mum crying almost every night that month. But then the crying turned to sniffling and then that turned into mild tears and eventually, it stopped. 

Now every time I’m feeling homesick, I make sure to talk about it. I reach out to my friends, family and other international/interstate/remote students. I also feel the emotion to its fullest but try not to let it stop me from exploring this beautiful city and all the exciting experiences it has to offer. Oh, and eating my national cuisine helps too. I’ve heard that food heals the soul (it’s true, nasi lemak never fails to put me in a good mood after a bad case of homesickness).

So, I guess I’m still bad at saying goodbye – and to be honest, I probably will always be bad at it – but I haven’t cried yet today so that should be a good sign of progress. A part of me will always miss home and that’s a part of me that I will always embrace and acknowledge no matter what.

I understand that some of you who are reading this might be going through the same thing as I did. I’m sure you’ll learn to get used to the feeling. You might take longer than others but that’s okay. As I said, it doesn’t get easier the second time but you’ll get better at it.

If you need someone to talk to, the Wellbeing Hub has some great resources that could help you or try TalkCampus today. 

Tagged in goodbye, international student, What messes with your head