How to Beat Homesickness as an International Student
Sudhindra Divate Srinivas, 24, an international student from India and Sulaiman Al-Tami, 29, from Saudi Arabia are standing on the quad in the heart of the Syracuse University campus. As internationals, both say that the mild weather is just one of the many nice things about living in central New York. Regretfully they say, the mild temperatures and beautiful foliage can’t erase the inevitable feeling of homesickness—something that isn’t always cured by a few rays of sunshine, but by good food, open-mindedness, and by willing exploration.
Syracuse University is home to hundreds of International students, coming from the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. International students make up 10% of the school’s population, making the cultural presence on campus a notable aspect of life as a Syracuse student. The same can be said throughout the country, as 1 million students from across the globe entered the U.S. on student visas, declares a recent study by migrationpolicy.org. Despite the large numbers of students taking interest in studying in schools like SU, it still might be helpful to know that homesickness is completely normal and entirely curable. The many International students at SU are living proof.
“Food is what makes me feel close to my culture, lifestyle, and friends at home,” Srinivas said, before adding that scouting good local eateries is the perfect way to conquer moments of nostalgia.
TIP #1: Food is a proven nostalgia trigger, and a great way to stay close to your culinary roots. Not hungry? Go window shopping, take a walk, or visit a public lounge area. The cause of homesickness is usually brought on by too much idle time
By his recommendation, Royal Indian Grill located on 147 Marshall St. is an affordable, delicious, and authentic place to enjoy Indian cuisine with friends and to meet both Indian and American students.
Similarly, Ariel Lee, 23, an international student from China, says food and social gatherings help her reconnect with her own culture naming China Café and Red Chili as favorites amongst Chinese students. More comfortably, Lee prefers to eat from home with friends—a cultural trend found amongst dozens of groups of Chinese, and even Korean students.
“Hotpot parties are really typical of Chinese culture.” Lee said. She also mentioned that through these parties, she has met many new friends from different parts of China; people she would not have met had it not been for a strong Chinese presence on campus, as well as the Hotpot parties and local Chinese restaurants that she frequents throughout the week. Hotpot parties are potluck-style get-togethers, hosted at someone’s house Lee said. “Usually there about 6-7 people that come, and sit around a table and help themselves to a steaming pot of food,” she said.
For the Chinese students looking to make hotpot-style meals of their own, Asia Food Market on 1449 Erie Blvd, is a cost-efficient and plentiful place to do most of your shopping. As an added perk, it is only a 15-20 minute walk from main campus, translating into a short five-minute drive.
TIP #2: Find places where you can do your food shopping in comfort, but make an effort to explore local super markets. The more that you try to adapt to the food, and overall culture of your new home, the more comfortable you will eventually be.
“Asia Food Market has everything you can think of, so it is easy to cook traditional meals,” Lee said. Other Chinese students have also said that they are not only grateful that Asia Food Market sells a vast selection of familiar Chinese food items, but also that Chinese students are branching out and making use of other cultural resources, besides the local supermarkets, such as the many different social, religious, and cultural clubs on campus.
Gavin Liu, 21, a senior Public Relations student from Beijing and a U.S. resident for 8 years, says that although finding a slice of home is a good way to remedy homesickness, he advises international students to stay busy; leave campus to check-out the downtown area, explore options for a fun weekend excursion, or simply join a campus club.
TIP #3: Be adventurous. Joining a club is a great way to meet people who are also in search for weekend plans! The Destiny USA shopping Mall, The Erie Canal Museum, and The Rosamond Gifford Zoo are just some ideas for a great weekend in Syracuse. Do your own research to help you gain a more natural appreciation for your new home.
Syracuse University alone offers 300 student organizations that vary from “advocacy, governance, media, culture, religious, service, art and entertainment and more,” as sited by the school’s student activities website.
According to a U.S. News research finding, joining a club likens to many different extracurricular opportunities that not only make for good additions to your résumé, but also a great way to meet new people, network professionally, and develop stronger English language skills.
Of the organizations, La Société Francophone aims to be exactly that kind of immersion experience. The club uses food tasting, speed-chatting, and open forum-based discussions, as a fun and challenging way to make life-long connections, and to learn a new language. Recent-member and France native Simon Boitard, 22, says that La Société Francophone helped him meet fellow French students, and most importantly, it has allowed him to teach others the importance of adaptability and embracing a new place.
“It’s all very new to me, but novelty is good,” he said. “I am also really enjoying encouraging other students to join this club” Boitard said, before adding that he is optimistically looking forward to the reminder of his days at SU—his way of sending his regards to home, and beating homesickness.
If you are interested in joining a club be sure to speak to your student services coordinator, or browse your university’s website.
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