Stirling, November 9. An email in my mailbox. “Your flight has been cancelled.” This is certainly something that you have seen before, especially if you are an international student like me.
I knew what I was getting myself into when I applied here. Homesickness is nothing that I invented, and it is a small price we pay for having this mesmerising experience abroad without even having to pay tuition. At least I do not because I am privileged enough to be an EU citizen and have come here before Brexit. Well, to come to the point: I am lucky and one of the few people who have to sacrifice so little for it. And still, I am struggling a lot.
The COVID-19 pandemic has developed in unexpected ways. I remember being in Germany in May and me and my friends were hoping that everything would be back to normal after summer. Things did not happen that way, that is obvious to everyone.
The funny thing is, looking at the process and the facts, having that kind of mindset was us acting pretty irrationally. But that’s how people cope with happenings that they can not influence in any shape or form: they deny (hide), fight, or freeze. I chose denial as a coping mechanism, knowing that the second semester would probably be online and still saying “well, maybe…”
I think the seriousness of the second wave hit me when my parents asked me to come home so they could take care of me in case of an illness. See, all that time I was worried about my parents getting the virus and not being in my hometown to help them, but our loved ones have the same worst-case scenarios about us. There I was again, needing to decide – I am very efficient at making decisions as you can see. Going back to Germany would have helped my family to worry less by having me by their side, in case of a harsh lockdown. This would have ended up with me giving up my newly-built life and friendship circle to pacify my parents and sacrificing some parts of my mental health by sitting in my old four corners.
This year has demanded plenty of things from us. It has pressured us to make decisions, leave our loved ones and be stuck with our own thoughts in our shoebox flats (that is what I lovingly call Muirhead). Problems challenge us, help us develop to be that person that we want to become. The important part of that process is to prioritise your own well-being while helping others. Taking steps on your unique path forces you to focus: What do you want? Are you going to that party because you want to or because you do not want to miss out? Do you want to go home? If you were the person you strive to be, what would that person do?
I guess, what I am trying to say is: These are odd times we live in. Look out for yourself and be kind to your peers. You never know what someone else is going through.
I hope to go home for Christmas, so cross your fingers for me – mine are crossed for you. In the end, I do not know what is going to happen, but I know that I will be fine. Baking cookies with my mother is the thing that I am looking forward to but if that does not work out, I will have a baking date with me, myself, and Netflix.
Take care, everyone, and stay safe.
PS: If you need someone to talk to, feel free to contact me at anytime.
Featured image credit: Brig Newspaper