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What it's like to ward off homesickness

December 11, 2012, 12:33 am | This story has an Influence Score of 2644

By riazhussain

Homesickness is the distress that you feel when you are away from home.  You begin to miss the members of your family and feel nostalgic for your home environment. People leave their homes out of necessity. Homesickness occurs intermittently. In other words, people who are away from home feel homesickness from time to time. Homesickness gives them anxiety and depression. The severity of homesickness varies from person to person. At times, the feelings of loneliness and sadness are so intense that the homesick become sick. It can lead to indigestion problems and headache. It can lead to serious psychological problems such as murders and suicides. This is what news stories tell us. According to a news report of Tim Moynihan of the Independent (May 23, 2012) , Gol, a Turkish homesick man stabbed his English wife in the UK.  In another story by Questia (September 25, 2002), an agitated Chinese student stabbed himself out of homesickness. Another news story by Matt of New York Times (March 21, 2012), refers to the death of an Irish priest who died in Brooklyn saying ‘I am homesick. My dear country, I will never set a foot on your green shores again. Oh, my mother, how I long to see you’. As a result of such negative and devastating effects of homesickness, the academic, social and professional activities of the homesick suffer.   

Psychologists and life coaches suggest various ways to alleviate homesickness. Some of the ways of reducing the prevalence of homesickness include reading books, staying in touch with family , decorating your room with the pictures of your homeland, getting busy in your work, talking to friends, participating in social work, getting involved in entertainment activities and eating out at restaurants that offer you native food .  In the following,  we are going to tell a true story of a homesick girl who was able to ward off her homesickness with the help of her friends.    

Atika is a foreign student studying at the University of Malaya, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She is doing her doctoral research in data mining. When she won the doctoral scholarship, she was excited that she would study in Malaysia. But, when she reached her campus in Malaysia, homesickness began to get into her. Actually, this was the first extended period of time that she had been away from her home. The strong connections with her family and her native place began to hang around her. At times,  she was so obsessed by home-focused thoughts that she missed even her pets, bed and the tree outside her bedroom window. One night she was overwhelmed with homesickness. She was unable to concentrate on her studies.  At late hours of the night she called Ali, one of her friends, and told him about her depression caused by the intense homesickness.  Ali was used to the place and knew that having fun or visiting some tourist spot could reduce her feelings of homesickness. He had heard that during the British rule, colonial masters in Malaysia used to visit Cameron Highlands to ward off their homesickness. So he decided to take her to this haven for the homesick. They decided to spend one day at this well-known hilly resort in the state of Pahang. 

They left early in their car before the dawn of the twilight. It took them four hours to reach there from Kuala Lumpur through the North-South Expressway (NSE). Ali told her that the place was named after a British surveyor. As they left the lowland behind, they reached Tapah. Soon the road began to wind around the mountains. There were fallen trees and rocks along the road. The road was narrow with frequent bends.  There were shops and markets of fresh fruit and vegetables along the road. The roadside view of the winding road was picturesque. They reached Cameron Highlands early in the morning at 7. The sun had risen. It was cold so they had to put on their jackets. At the nearest café, they enjoyed cups of tea and then walked on. They walked along the narrow paths and tracks that ran through the tea plantations, fruit farms, vegetable farms, and forests. They saw villagers working in the tea plantations and farms. Strawberry farms were ubiquitous. People working at the farms let them pluck a few strawberries. In Bertam Valley they saw flower nurseries. Fresh carnations, roses, and fuschia filled their heart with pleasure. Butterflies of several species were hovering and floating around the flowers. They climbed the mountains to reach the peaks. They came across meandering streams, cascades, and waterfalls. The peaks appeared to tower above the foamy clouds. These soaring peaks of the mountains offered them breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. In addition to the unpolluted natural landscape, they found there man-made structures in the form of colonial mansions, churches, temples and the simple dwellings of the villagers. They also visited Time Tunnel Museum there. The museum offers a peep into the history and development of Cameron Highland. When they were on their way back to Kuala Lumpur , they took a different route. They stopped near the hut-shaped shops.  They took souvenirs, tea and strawberry toffees. They also bought key chains with real insects and butterflies.

The serene beauty of the lush green mountains mesmerized them. She says that she cannot describe in words the pure and pristine beauty of the place.  She says that she was so dazzled by the beauty of the fertile valleys and the scenic spots that she forgot her homesickness. The magnificent retreat gave her a new awareness about life, nature and the earth. Now she says that the whole earth is her home. ‘Why should we limit our home to our brick and mortar houses in our native places when nature is our universal home?’, she asks . She now believes in the healing power of nature. She is of the view that the beauty of nature can heal homesickness. Thus, nature has inspired her with a cosmopolitan outlook towards life.  Now, she knows how to get over her homesickness and is  planning to go with her friends on a trekking and hiking trip to Cameron Highlands. 


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