A picture of mountains from a plane

Dealing with Homesickness as an International Student

At random times during the day, I find myself thinking about home. Back home, it's a different lifestyle and many things are different about Toronto and Lagos, but there are a few similarities that make me feel a bit closer to the hustle and bustle of the Lagos streets. Many times I find myself comparing my routines in Toronto to my routines in Lagos and it just makes me think about all the things I miss about being constantly surrounded by my loud family and overly-excited friends. Nothing can really replace my home but I definitely do put in effort to make living as a university student in downtown Toronto as homely and vibrant as possible. Here are 3 ways I've dealt with homesickness while away from my parents and country.

Decorate my room with items that remind me of home

Turning my space into something similar to home really helps me with homesickness. At home, we always had scented candles that kept the air smelling like flowers or fruit all the time and I tried doing the same in my apartment downtown. Although, I couldn't get the exact same scent just the fact that I have scented candles really made me feel at home. I also tried incorporating traditional patterns into my room despite not having that many authentic African pieces, I make do with what I have. For example, I have a pillowcase made of Ankara and it really does justice of brightening up my room and reminding of my roots.

My African print pillow next to my faux fur pillow
My African print pillow next to my faux fur pillow 😁

Get cultural and creative with my food

I believe that a very huge part of culture and homeliness is food. I love Nigerian food and one of my biggest issues living in Downtown Toronto is finding good Nigerian cuisine. While I was in residence, I was unable to cook my own food and I really missed my cultural food so I had to get creative by buying African spices and mixing these in with the food served in residence. Now that I have my own apartment, cooking Nigerian food has been a lot easier and in fact the only thing I actually ever eat aside from the one or two times I order McDonalds.

Gather a group of friends and bring my traditions to light

One of the best things about U of T is that you will always find people from the same country as you. A big part of my university experience has been building community with the Nigerian Students Association and having multiple events that we would normally have back home. Aside from that, when I spend time with my friends we always have a fun time playing games or ranting about politics which reminds me so much of the atmosphere in Lagos.

Staying in tune with my culture and feeling at home away from home gives me a huge sense of comfort and ambience, which are very important for days when I really miss home. As much as I try to make my space similar to what I would have in Lagos, I acknowledge that I'm in Toronto for a different experience and I try to immerse myself in the Canadian culture as much as possible by trying new things and having a very diverse group of friends!

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