I have never missed my family and friends as much as I am now after moving almost 850 kilometers away from the place I call home. The reason it hit me so unexpectedly is because of who I am – or thought I was.
Ever since I was a little kid, I was quite independent and very responsible. I would take care of everything and everyone, especially myself. Therefore, it was not surprising for my loved ones when I announced at the age of 13 or 14 that I was going to move from Poland.
My first idea was to go as far as possible. Go to the USA, the UK, anywhere else but my home country.
However, I settled on Denmark and was working extremely hard toward achieving my teenage goal.
I became the person that everyone in my surroundings knew was leaving to study abroad for university.
Thus no one suspected (including me) that I could experience the feeling of homesickness even mildly.
Surprisingly, it hit me two weeks after moving countries. I was going to the supermarket to just do grocery shopping. Seems like an easy errand. However, something in my brain connected it to the feeling of home and I could feel tears running down my cheeks.
I could not understand why seeing a lady with little children shopping made me cry my eyes out in front of a store. The truth was it made me miss my mom, my childhood, and our time together.
And it was not crazy trips or anything out of the ordinary that I was longing for but those simple moments of us picking the food for the busy week ahead. Suddenly at that moment the loneliness just hit me as well as the realization that childhood as I knew it is over.
I missed the voices of members of my family and worst of all the fear of missing out. I felt that I am not a part of their everyday routines anymore
But is it all negative? Are we doomed to be unhappy as we enter our adult realities once we move out from the place we grew up in? The pessimistic train of thought led the way for a long time in my head.
For the first few weeks, I was considering going back home. Lonely meals without the loud bunch of people who want to hear about your day and help you through stressful situations. I missed the voices of members of my family and worst of all the fear of missing out. I felt that I am not a part of their everyday routines anymore.
I knew that I am going to miss my sister’s academic successes and failures, my brother scoring in a football match or my parents’ achieving their career goals. It scared me and still often does.
But now I try to overcome my fear on an everyday basis because I am so lucky to live and study in a different country with so many opportunities.
The school that I have chosen here provides me with high-quality education and people here prioritize their well-being, because of the famous hygge, which taught me a lot about taking care of my comfort.
And of course, Copenhagen itself is an amazing city with rich cultural institutions, wonderful places to go, and architectural beauty, which makes up even for the atmospheric conditions at times.
What else helped me through all the sadness and loneliness?
Honest conversations with your loved ones I think are the key. Don’t be afraid to admit your feelings and fears. Their understanding and warm words of encouragement may get you through some of the tougher moments despite the lack of everyday contact you were used to.
A lot of people, including me, say that once you move away from your parents, that this relationship improves. Lack of control and responsibilities gives young people more freedom, and their absence at home gives parents less irritation, maybe. Take advantage of that!
Now you have a new chapter with the people that are the closest to you. Be more communicative and open. This can help you to get closer, which will simultaneously minimalize the effect of the distance between you.
But do not limit yourself to the people back home. Start creating a new version of your support system in a new place. Talk to friends you are able to meet at school – especially those who have similar feelings. I was lucky enough to have a big group of international students in my course.
Talking to them made me realize that I am not alone,which is the most suffocating feeling during this time. But the truth is that most of us felt uncomfortable in the new city, out of place, and had adjusted to new surroundings.
Moreover, there are so many social organizations, consisting of people from different parts of the world,that can help with the hard process of creating new friendships or simply just reducing yourfear or loneliness.
I appreciate this place more, as well as the people I have met here who have truly made me believe that I can call Copenhagen my new home
Sharing your experiences with homesickness can bring you closer together and may help overcome the struggles of being alone in a new city.
At this point, after one semester of living in a different country, I concluded that the most important part of creating a feeling of a home far away from family and friends is time.
Month by month, week by week I feel less sad about leaving Poland and my life there. Instead, I’m experiencing growing happiness and satisfaction in choosing to live and study here. I appreciate this place more, as well as the people I have met here who have truly made me believe that I can call Copenhagen my new home.