Skip to main content

Caitlin Sim

SFU Student Undergraduate
Arts + Social Sciences › Psychology | Arts + Social Sciences › Criminology

Alex Hewitt

The end of year holidays is a time for joy and celebration. Despite this, I find that the holidays can also intensify my feelings of loneliness. Living as an international student in Canada and being almost 12 000 km away from home, seeing other people get together with their loved ones would make anyone feel even more alone.  

However, it doesn’t always have to be this way. Everyone should still make the best of their holidays as we have all earned that break after working hard the entire year. Here are some things I do to help me navigate homesickness during the holidays:

1. Realize it is Normal

Home is where the heart is. It is only natural we’d start to miss our family, friends and pets back home. Understand that it is only normal to feel this way, instead of trying to fight those feelings or taking it as a sign of weakness. Take some time out to reflect on those feelings (I find that keeping a journal is especially helpful for this). Taking a moment of reflection can help you process your emotions, and you’ll be less likely to dwell on it which gives you more time for fun stuff! 

2. Try Something New 

Now that you’ve already (briefly) wallowed in your sadness, it’s time to make some plans to keep you occupied. It can be tempting to fall back to our normal routine, as it is familiar and comforting. But with the extra freedom, the holidays are a perfect opportunity to switch it up and try something new. You can use this time to take care and work on yourself in many ways. Try partaking in a new hobby, or finally start tackling that bucket list of new things to try. Or even use this as a chance to take yourself out on a solo date, and plan a day as if you were showing somebody else the newest spots in town. In need of new places to discover and explore? Check out Lauretta’s blog on Vancouver’s Hidden Gems

3. Bring Home to Your New Environment 

What are some things that remind you of home? It could be a homemade dish or a familiar scent that brings you back to your hometown. Whatever your comfort things are, make sure you bring some of it with you to uni. Or instead of a material object, it could also be an activity that makes you feel at home. I personally like to learn dishes that my mom frequently cooks at home, one of them being a pork rib dish cooked in broth called “Ba Kut Teh.” I also like completing puzzles because it's something that I would do together with my family back home. Home comforts can really help with the feeling of homesickness, so think about what really soothes you when you’re feeling down and start trying it here.  

4. Go to Events  

Go to some holiday themed events to lift your spirits up! There is just something about gathering with other people who are all excited about the upcoming holidays. Head down to the local Christmas market or take a stroll with the brightly colored lights in Van Dusen. One of my personal favorites is walking my dogs along the lights at Lafarge Lake Coquitlam. Even though the feelings of homesickness occasionally kick in, activities that bring people together during the holidays can really cheer me up. Seeing other people partake in these activities and enjoy themselves really reminds me to celebrate and make the most of my holidays. 

5. Keep in Touch With Your Family 

It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement and thrill of the holidays, but it is important to remember what comes first, spending time with your friends and family. Make sure you keep in touch with your family while overseas by scheduling video calls and sending text messages every day. That way, you don’t lose touch of what is happening back home. What matters most is showing our appreciation and gratitude during the end of year holidays, so don’t forget to check in with your loved ones back home, you’ll even be able to tell them about the new things you’ve been trying out this holiday season. 

Feeling homesick is a feeling I am all too familiar with. But always remember you are not alone, and that there are other people who might be feeling the same. This is your sign to go out there and have some fun! Whether you are trying out a new activity or working on old hobbies, taking care of yourself always comes first. Lastly, don't forget that there are student services such as SFU Health and Counselling that you can reach out to if you are having a hard time. Instead of fighting sadness, recognize that it can be a normal feeling during the holidays, and from there, you can take the steps to overcome it.


Caitlin Sim

SFU Student Undergraduate
Arts + Social Sciences › Psychology | Arts + Social Sciences › Criminology
visibility  213
Dec 15, 2022

Posts by Author

Caitlin with phone
De-influencing: Social Media’s Response to Overconsumption

Influencers are constantly promoting brands and products, but now they’ve started to take the opposite route with de-influencing

image of caitlin walking up the stairs
4 Ways to Level Up This Year

The new year is a time for everyone to start fresh. Look at the new year as an opportunity to start over and nothing is more motivating than wanting to make every 202X “your year.”

You Might Like These... Volunteering, Community Engagement, Professional Development, Personal Development, Life Balance

STC West Coast
Alumnus Profile: How Crystal Kwon Advanced Her Career Through Volunteerism

Students often overlook one important benefit of volunteerism. While students realize that scholarships and bursaries usually require community engagement, they often forget that volunteerism can also give you the edge you need after you finish your degree.

Kyle and volunteers
Kyle Jung: Expand Your Horizons through Volunteering

Did you know that you can make a difference through volunteering, as well as discovering your passions and career goals? These are just some of the benefits of volunteering, according to Kyle Jung, a 5th-year SIAT student who is also the Vice President of Operations, Interactive Arts & Technology Student Union (IATSU) and the SFSS Forum Representative.

Jordan Robinson: Volunteer, Learn & Have Fun!

Do you want to improve your writing and communications skills? Do you want to meet other SFU students? If you answered “yes” to any of the two questions, becoming a peer educator may just be right for you! Let Jordan Robinson, a 4th-year Sociology student, tell you what valuable skills and experiences.

You Might Like These... Your Next Co-op

Michael smiling in front of broken glass mural
Reinvent Yourself by Working Abroad

Michael Welk went to Spain to teach English for his co-op and shares about his adventure in a new country. Read on to find out about what you can gain from an experience such as leaving your comfort zone and exploring! This article was originally published in the Arts Co-op Newsletter in Spring 2015.

Image of Author. She is smiling at the camera and the blog title is displayed to her right.
5 Ways to Stay Motivated During An Extended Work Term

Feeling low on motivation and enthusiasm during an extended work term? Read Charmaine's blog on getting your motivation level up and running during your work term.

Photo of Isabelle Soares
Convocation Spotlight: Isabelle Soares

Isabelle Soares is a stand-out SIAT student who is graduating this week with a Bachelor of Arts in Interactive Arts & Technology. During her time as a SIAT student, Isabelle was involved in the IAT student union and took part in an internship at LinkedIn where she was placed on the LinkedIn Learning Enterprise Growth team.