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Managing homesickness at the University of Calgary – by Keegan Bull

When I decided to go on exchange I was eager to test myself and enjoy my experience in a foreign country, thinking little of the possible hardships I may experience while there. I expected to feel some degree of discomfort being so far away from home for the first time but I hadn’t quite grasped the gravity of the situation until I had arrived here in Calgary.

It was explained to me that people tend to cope with the initial first couple weeks of exchange quite differently. The first type of people there are are overjoyed to be experiencing all these new, amazing things and will give little thought about home and will not experience any resemblance of home sickness until they are used to their surroundings, if at all. The second type of people are those that are quite aware of their situation of being away from their family, friends and being alone in a foreign country and will initially have a difficult first week or two.

I fit into the second category and at times, found myself overcome by depression. The way I overcame this feeling of strong anxiety and homesickness is by keeping myself busy. I made my dorm room feel more like home rather than just a room I’ll be staying in while here. I familiarised myself with my surrounding area so I didn’t get lost. This also helped me feel more at home as I was no longer staying in an unfamiliar area. But the most important thing I did was make friends. As a person, I am tad bit shy and can find it difficult to go out and talk to new people which is why I found the idea of doing just that so terrifying. However, I knew if I stayed in my room my situation would not improve so I made the initiative to go out and meet new people.

Due to this decision I am now having an amazing time. I’ve met people from all over the world and made some close friends in my short time here. A contributing factor that made it much easier for me to make friends was the decision to live on campus rather than seek accommodation elsewhere. Because of this I live within thirty seconds of most of my new friends which makes meeting up much easier than back home. I would usually set aside some time each week to muck about with my mates but here it’s much easier and now not a day goes by where I don’t spend time with my friends, whether it be drinks at the pub or a big get together for dinner.

Now that I’ve settled in I have a really positive view of the University of Calgary, it is a terrific campus. The only issue I have with it is how easy it is not to leave as it has pretty much everything you need here Dinning Hall, Food Court, Gym, Ice skating, great big ovals, etc. It’s certainly not the worst problem to have but it certainly wouldn’t hurt for me to go see more of Calgary as well as more of Canada.

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