After a series of mishaps I will admit that I was feeling extremely homesick. It was hard for me to cope with being abroad and missing home because I no longer had the things that I normally took comfort in. Especially, when the country you are studying abroad at has an 11 hour time difference, so it can be a bit difficult to communicate with loved ones. I was fortunate enough to have family members who visited Vietnam, which pulled me out of my slump, but I did find it a bit hard in a foreign country.
First, I believe when you are abroad it is important to find something that you love, for me it was bingsu, a delicious type of Korean dessert, and the friends I made in Vietnam. Those in my program felt the exact same way as I did, but we pulled through by finding new places to visit or restaurants that offered similar comfort food to the ones we find back at home. Also, my program provided me with a Vietnamese roommate, which was nice because she showed me all of the places that she normally visited when feeling down, but simultaneously it was a bit difficult because there are times when I felt that just want to be alone.
Bingsu, one of the greatest deserts ever created by mankind.
So, if you ever find yourself missing home I would highly suggest:
Find a sacred space: Ho Chi Minh City had a very beautiful, serene area called Turtle Lake. It was a very peacefully place in the afternoon, but it was quite busy at night. They also have a walking street outside of the People’s palace, where everyone of all ages just gathers. There are street performers, vendors, and a lot of great restaurants around this area.
Walking Street at sunset.
Calling loved ones: There’s nothing better than being able to call your best friend or family members at home. I feel that when you are in a rut at times, then it’s important to talk to someone who cares about you and I felt that they helped me keep a positive mindset while abroad.
Occupying your mind: This ties together with finding new places to visit or things to do. If you are in a large city abroad, it is probably one of the best times to consume yourself in the culture and all that it has to offer. Many countries offers a series of things that are not provided in the United States. The things that I found the most interesting were the museums, I know this may sound boring, but I guarantee you it was a lot of fun. There were 3D interactive art museums, the Vietnam War Remnants, and also interestingly enough a series of art museums dedicated to combat artists and female soldiers during the Vietnam War.
Exercise if you can: In Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, it was very difficult to exercise because we did not have any access to any gyms and it was difficult to run in the city due to the pollution. You could literally feel the dust hit your face as you drive or run around. Either way, when I felt stressed out from studying the workload or just feeling homesick, I just decided to workout in my room, which was a bit strange, but it helped me relieve the stress and I instantly felt better. Also, Vietnam also has a few small parks with exercise equipment. Although, I would highly suggest brining your own disinfectant wipes.
Lastly, Remember the opportunity you have to even be abroad: We are very fortunate to be provided with the opportunity to study abroad. I know all of the Vietnamese roommates that we had have never even left their own city, let alone the country. I definitely can see that each country as their own uniqueness and if given the chance to explore. There were a lot of great things about Vietnam, particularly how cheap everything was and how kind and considerate everyone you meet is. I think I have never been to an area where everyone I met was so friendly and willing to help you.