Homesick in Boston

It was November when my homesickness hit. November in Boston is a particularly depressing time. The weather is just starting to get unbearable; the sky is always grey; it rains off and on constantly.

For the first two months of college, I had hardly missed home, but when I got to November (the worst month of the year, in my opinion), I started missing the sunny Phoenix skies, and, more importantly, my family. Whenever I called home or looked at the Facebook pages of my relatives, I felt like I was missing out—it was the beginning of the holiday season and I wasn’t there to spend it with them.

pie, pastry, sweet, cake, apple pie, bread, crust
Jocelyn Hsu

I come from a big, close-knit family. Our family is obsessed with food—at our last Thanksgiving, my mom and I made a total of six pies (one pecan, two apple, one apple raspberry, one rhubarb, and one pumpkin) to bring to our family potluck. This obsession with food makes the holiday season a particularly important time of year for our family.

My favorite part of the holiday season was never the day itself, but the lead up; I always loved the buildup before Thanksgiving or Christmas, with all of the baking and decorating and cooking, and I loved my position as family pie-maker.

water, bird, beer
Sarah Silbiger

But, as I left for a college that was over 2,500 miles away from my home and family, I had to give up my pie-making title. Since I would be flying home the night before Thanksgiving, I wouldn’t have time to make any pies, let alone enjoy the Thanksgiving buildup.

At first, to cope with my homesickness, I tried to remind myself of home by eating the homemade treats that my mom mailed me, but after I had eaten them all, I still felt homesick.

How I Got Rid of My Homesickness

So, I decided to try an experiment. The first day of November, I cut out 30 slips of paper and wrote something I was thankful for on each one. But, while normally I would have written about things I was thankful for back home, like my family and friends, I decided to only about things I was thankful for in Boston.

Some of them were small, like having bacon in the dining hall on Thursdays, or my favorite coffee shop (Caffé Nero, if anyone was wondering). Others were bigger, like the names of my closest friends in college. Every day, I would pick a slip of paper and be reminded of something I was thankful for.

At first, I didn’t notice much of a difference. I would pick a slip of paper and give it a cursory glance, then go on with my day. But after the first week of doing this, I realized that I was genuinely reflecting on why I was thankful for that thing. I was less homesick, and more appreciative of the people and things around me. When I went home to Phoenix for Thanksgiving, I even found that I was missing Boston!

Homesickness sucks, and it’s especially hard during the holiday season. For anyone far from home (or not so far from home), I recommend trying this. I can’t promise it will cure your homesickness, but it helped me be more grateful for the opportunities around me and reminded me why I chose to come to a school 2,624 miles away from home.

This exercise doesn't have to be limited to the Thanksgiving season either! Any month that you're feeling homesick, try and find the little things that you're thankful for.