Yes, I did experience homesickness, especially in the first two quarters at UC Davis. Even though I had some family and relatives living an hour away, I often missed my home and family in Nepal whenever I was alone. To the students who are experiencing homesickness, my advice would be a) to accept that feeling of homesickness as completely normal so that this makes it easier to deal with it, b) to have a designated time to talk with family and friends back home, c) create a time for yourself every day such as walking, journaling, exercise to help with these emotions and d) find your community, on and off campus, and connect with them.
I have a story to share that helped me normalize academic stress. During my first quarter, I felt I was not performing well in the course discussions and the assignments. Everything I did here, such as readings and writing assignments, was new. In one of the courses, I did not receive a grade that I had expected, which shook my confidence. Due to that experience, it was important to address how I perceived my academic performance and deal with the impact that perception had on me. So, I started to change my perception. Instead of thinking that I did not perform well, I started to accept that everything here is new to me, that I am learning new things every day, and that adjusting to a new academic environment takes time. Rather than assessing my performance, I shifted the perception of it as a learning process that made it easier for me to deal with academic stress. This is still my mantra for dealing with different kinds of academic stress.
Familial Stress and Parent Expectations
As an international student, I am far from my parents and siblings. The fact that I cannot help them when they need me or be there for them is something that I feel very strongly. My parents understand that I am far away and need to focus on my studies, so they manage things independently, but I always check in and see if everything is okay. Sometimes, when my parents or siblings need my help or their health is not good, such things create stress. To deal with such stress, I first try communicating with them and my siblings to see what they need and if I can help. If not, I reach out to other resources or relatives and friends to see if they can offer support. If neither seems possible, I encourage them to do it independently or help them find alternatives to that particular task. Regarding my study expectations, my parents want me to study well and do my best. There are moments when I feel I am not performing well. I try to tell them about the situation and how I feel. I also focus more on my accomplishments and share them with my family back home, which makes them happy and proud. While there is no particular way to deal with familial stress, communication is key to ensuring that everybody is aware and well-informed about situations on both sides.