Homesickness is one of the hardest things about moving away from home. My friends and I have all experienced it, especially during the holidays or special events where family and friends usually gather. Some feel it at different levels than others, but it still impacts students no matter how close or far away their home is. And some months can be harder than others. But here are some tips and tricks to deal with it whenever it occurs!

Find Restaurants in Shanghai That Serve Food Similar to Food at Home and Share Meals There with Your Friends

Chinese food in bowls.

Even though I have been at NYU Shanghai for three years, I still feel homesick now and then. It was especially hard when I arrived in Shanghai in 2020 and did not know when I would return home. What did I miss most about Guatemala? The food. So to ease homesickness, I go to a Peruvian restaurant called Colca with my friends and share Latin American dishes with them. Although Peruvian food is very different from Guatemalan food, it is similar enough for me to feel closer to home. 

Some of my favorite Latin American restaurants are LatinLand, Boca, and Pistolera. They serve Colombian, Venezuelan, and Mexican food respectively. I would definitely recommend these if you’re from Latin America, like Latin American food, or just like exploring food from different places! Shanghai has many restaurants with cuisines from all around the world, which is a big advantage of living in this amazing city! You can also try to recreate some dishes from home if going out is not a feasible option for you.

Conversing about the food’s differences and similarities is a great way to connect with your community no matter where they’re from. And it has definitely helped me ease my homesickness. 

A dish of paella, with lobster.

Find People Who Know Your Native Language

Finding people who use your native language can help you overcome homesickness. In my first year, I attended Velada Hispana, a series of events organized by the University, where I could converse in Spanish with native users and people learning Spanish. This helped me connect with my community at NYU Shanghai as well as overcome some of my homesickness. Attending events like this can also help language learners create community. For example, when one of my Chinese roommates was learning Spanish, I was very happy to teach her new words and discuss my culture with her. And she would do the same for me when I was learning Chinese. Many students who don’t know your native language are often interested in learning it!

Four females wearing roller skates at a roller-skating rink.

Decorate Your Room and Pack Your Favorite Snacks from Home

Your room is more than a place to sleep. You will probably spend a big portion of your time there. So it is important to make it feel like home. Personally, I put cards and letters I received in the past and pictures of my friends and family on the walls to remind me of home. I also pack some of my favorite snacks from home. So whenever I feel homesick, I look at those pictures and eat something delicious, and in that moment, I feel more at home. 

A bag of Limón Tortrix, one of the author’s favorite snacks from home.

Remember, You Are Not Alone

Homesickness can hit anyone whether they moved to a different city or a different country. Part of being in a diverse environment is that you can share your culture with other people. But this also means you can share your struggles! My friends and acquaintances were very understanding when it came to homesickness. Why? Because, believe it or not, most of them felt homesick by winter or summer break too. For example, during the summer before my junior year, my friend invited some friends and me to her apartment so we could cook food from home together to help cure our homesickness. You are not alone!

More Important Things to Remember!

Moving to a different country might be hard. Especially when you are also embarking on your college journey for the first time. From balancing classes to dealing with homesickness, it can be overwhelming. But you are not alone in any of this. The tips I shared have personally helped me, but you might find different things more helpful. Just ensure you explore what works best for you. But there is one thing I know for sure: you have and will have a community to support you through the process of being away from home. And, as a result, you will create new memories in this new home. 

Hi, I’m Maria Fok from Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. My major is Interactive Media and Business with a minor in Chinese. I recently graduated in the CO2023. I love to travel and learn about different cultures and languages, which is why I decided to go to NYU Shanghai!