Your soul may have to catch up with your body when you live in a new country. Katherine Zacapa from Honduras is currently studying in Japan. She explains more why your soul takes some time to follow you in a new country.
When I was 16, I did an exchange year in Switzerland. That was the very first time I hopped on a plane, and it was to cross the whole Atlantic Ocean to live with a family I had only read about on paper for a whole year. But when you are 16, do you even think about these things? I didn’t.
The first day I got to my host family’s house I wasn’t sure how I was feeling. It wasn’t sadness, it wasn’t excitement, it wasn’t fear. I couldn’t really figure out what it was. During that same first week, I still vividly remember, my host dad asking me “Is your soul here?” This really confused me. I asked, “What do you mean?”. He explained how when you travel somewhere, your body gets there first, but it takes some time until your soul does. This happened five years ago, and it has stuck with me ever since.
I am currently in Japan to study abroad for four months, and it took my soul a little over a week to get here. Two years ago I left my home country, Honduras, to study in the USA. Before traveling to Japan, I saw my family and we had a blast. It was the nicest trip ever. Once I got to Japan, I couldn’t understand why I was missing them so much. When I study in the USA, I had said goodbye many times before.
After meditating on this, it shook me how strong family bonds are. I hadn’t seen my mom for about 4 months and spending time with her and my sister, who I get along really well with, made me so happy and just made the bonds tighter. That is why it took my soul a little over a week to get to Japan because somehow it was still with them.
International students often fall into this cycle of going home then going back to their host universities and so on and so forth. We see our families, the bonds grow tighter or looser, then we go back to our lives in our host country, and then we see our families again and it becomes a cycle.
Sometimes leaving might be really easy but other times you might cry. Sometimes it is easier to go back to school to your normal routine. It is understandable if you feel weird like you can’t adjust. It might even happen the other way around, and you feel an uneasiness towards your home country. What I want you to know is that you’re not weird for feeling like this and that it is actually pretty normal.
Now I want to give you some tips for whenever you are going through this or you just feel out of place:
- Express what you’re feeling
- It doesn’t matter if it’s through a journal, an adult coloring book, dancing or just listening to music while walking. Expressing what you’re feeling will help you let out a little bit of stress.
- Talk about it
- Even if it is hard for you to talk about feelings, this will help you feel better. Most likely, someone else is feeling the same way.
- Get busy
- Say it with me “DO NOT STAY IN YOUR ROOM”. Get out, explore, walk, do laundry, anything. Distract your mind.
- Lastly and most importantly, be patient with yourself
- We have been taught that we have to always be strong and that we always have to be happy for studying abroad, but this is not always the case. No one teaches us that it is normal to not be happy all the time and to just let things out. So cry all you want but get back on your feet! It won’t last forever.
Next time you feel out of place and you can’t really figure out what it is, ask yourself, “Is my soul here?” If it’s a no, don’t worry, it will get there. Just be patient. It is okay to feel this way.
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