Like a lot of young adults, I live away from home. While this can be an exciting experience filled with new freedoms and breathing space, It can also be a horrible experience too.
In my country, the most common path for young people to take is to finish high school and attend a university at home or overseas. In my opinion, this expectation has contributed to a raft of social problems amongst young people. A lot of people feel pressured that this is their only option. Their siblings and their friends are all attending university so they feel as though this option is one which they must pursue as well. This marks a social change, for most of these people’s parents have never attended university. While this social pressure to go on and become highly educated is not such a bad phenomena, I would argue the fact many young people feel like this is mentally challenging and/ or damaging.
Personally, I have always loved learning. I enjoyed school, and I actually enjoyed the pressure school placed on me with the amount of work and study I had to complete in such a short space of time. It seems the great majority of teenagers find this pressure too much, imposing anxiety and stress levels on them that they cannot control. For these people, I would stress that a university might not be such a great idea straight out of high school. I assumed though that I would be okay.
You see, it was not the workload that got me down, and it was not the content that I was studying either. Quite honestly, I just missed home.The more I talked to people, and the more I looked around, the more I realized, everyone else just wanted a cuddle from Mum and a nice roast dinner cooked for them too. I am into my third year away from home now and have two more to go before I have earned myself three degrees. I thought I would get used to my new city and grow to love it. While I have a lot of respect and appreciation for my new city, I know I still want to live closer to home. This I have discovered, I am a family person.
It is okay to miss home. This is who I am. Undoubtedly I have discovered that most people I have encountered at university miss their homes too. This homesickness and anxiety though, should not stop you from moving away and achieving your goals.
Home is an artificial construct. It may seem entirely real as you sit in your cosy bed, utilizing the WiFi and being surrounded by your family. What home really is, is a collection of people, smells, familiarity, possessions, perhaps a pet and memories. These things can survive no matter where in the world in you are.
While this is true it doesn’t make being away from home any easier. There are a few things you can do to stay happy and positive even though you may be uncomfortable. I found having an intermediate person really helpful. This may be a partner, a best friend from home, of even someone that’s just from the same country. This was you can have someone to create new home comforts with while reminiscing about old home comforts.
It is also helpful to maintain a healthy balanced lifestyle. This includes eating the right foods, exercising and putting aside time for yourself. Bring photos of your family, and blankets and homewares from home too. Don’t bring everything, as finding your home involves bringing old memories as well as creating new ones.
Ultimately no matter what you do, there will be those days where you sit on the edge of your bed and just want to go home. This is entirely okay! You have to remember how strong and beautiful you are just for making that move and getting where you are right now.
When it gets too hard and life gets a bit tough, home is just a car, bus, plane or boat ride away, even if this involves travelling for an entire day. So go forth and achieve those dreams even if they take you thousands of miles away from home.
Words by Rebecca Dewar // Photography by Johanna Mariel
© 2015 Reef Magazine