Growing up in sunny southern California, I am not accustomed to a lifestyle where the warmest weather maybe reaches 60 degrees for one hour and it rains on and off for days. A friend I made here who’s from Chicago definitely does not complain about the weather as much as I do.
Then there were days I felt absolutely restless. Other days I felt vaguely frustrated. I thought maybe I just needed a bit more sleep. Or a bit more caffeine in my system.
I began to recognize these were signs of being homesick kicking in as I traced back my frustrations. I wasn’t sure how to deal with it as it never truly sunk in when I first moved out for college. Then I received a timely e-mail from my health insurance provider about homesickness.
“If I can summarize a lesson that I’m beginning to pick up, it would be this: take charge of your experience.”
I read the article they sent and part of it said, “remember to congratulate yourself.” Because moving thousands of miles away — much farther than what I’ve done for college — is a big deal! I had to realize that part of how I was coping was to downplay all the work I put in to be an exchange student here at Murdoch. It was to prevent all my anxiety and doubts from overwhelming me but I ended up muting most of my feelings instead, including the more positive ones.
Now that I’m properly acknowledging both my emotions and accomplishments, it feels uplifting. I do miss home and all its comforts (particularly the warm and sunny days as it’s been excessively raining here this winter) and that’s okay. For the time being, it helps to be busy as I rebuild a routine and keep a schedule throughout my days. Part of that includes fulfilling the token Australian photo op, of course! Or copping as many free food events on campus with friends as we can.
If I can summarize a lesson that I’m beginning to pick up, it would be this: take charge of your experience.
It’s one thing to just simply fulfill a graduation requirement, but it’s another thing entirely to consciously decide to live on your own in another country for nearly half a year. And I know it sounds terrifying — which in its own right is true — but it doesn’t have to stop there.
It all can be just as exciting as it is scary — and that’s okay! That’s just how life is, really.
P.S. Guess who is also officially in their fourth and final year of undergrad and has started their Australian classes!!
Kat Hidalgo is a fourth-year kinesiology (physical therapy emphasis) major. She is studying at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia for the fall semester.