While you get to make new friends and explore new cities that keep the homesickness at bay, some days, that feeling of isolation becomes impossible to escape. This last weekend was Diwali, a day that every year reminds me of the hardship of being away from home. Known as the festival of lights, Diwali is celebrated by lighting diyas(candles), putting up lights and by praying for good fortune to celebrate the mythological triumph of good over evil.
But just as all festivals do, Diwali to me, has come to mean more. It became about the memories I made with my parents decorating my whole house. It became about the laughter and jokes I shared with my older brother when we couldn’t get through prayers seriously. It became about the food, the friendships, and the love that I now sit and write about from miles away.
It does get hard, and the hardship is what doesn’t get talked about enough. This year, more than ever, students have and will come to find themselves away from home on these occasions of togetherness whether it’s Diwali, Thanksgiving or Christmas. Hiding behind the pictures of celebration can be moments of loneliness and it’s important to know that you are not alone in experiencing them. So, what can you do?
Create a home away from home – surround yourself with your support system away from home. This can be through celebrating the day with your friends and telling them about your experiences with the festival. I spent my Diwali ordering Indian food, teaching my friends about my culture, and dressing up in traditional clothes. Staying connected with people brings solace in difficult times and this year, you may create new special traditions that follow for years to come.
Call your family and friends and tell them how you feel – Talking to people about how you are feeling is the first, most essential step to feeling better! Often people assume that you’re doing okay until told otherwise, so if you reach out, it may open up pathways to fun virtual celebrations together! Also remember, if you are not going through something personally, someone you know might be so make the effort to reach out to people around you.
Find ways to enjoy your own company – While this may not be for everyone, there’s beauty in solitude. Popping open your favourite wine, throwing on a onesie, ordering in some pizza and watching Love Actually for the 100th time may just turn out to be the best Christmas tradition you ever had!
Take care of your mental health – Most importantly, if you find yourself feeling anxious or lonely this festive season, you can reach out to the University Wellbeing Service or local GPs to talk about your mental health. You are not alone in your struggle.
Having survived and enjoyed the one day of the year that I miss home the most, I am here to tell you that though it may seem difficult, you too will find ways to enjoy your festive season, even if it seems daunting right now. Each year brings new festive stories, and since this has been a year like no other, its time to create new, unique memories to bring new meaning to your celebrations!
Feature Image: Pixabay @geralt