As you all may already know, I am from India. I lived there my whole life, and only moved abroad to attend the Global Master’s Programme at Karolinska Institutet. I have never really lived continents apart from my family, which essentially meant that I could either thrive abroad, or crash and burn. Since I am still somehow functioning, I think I can safely say that things are going as well as they possibly could. So for this blog, I will be addressing certain factors and lifestyle choices that I have adopted that have helped me live away from my family and still stay sane.
It’s no secret that India is associated with delectable food and spices. While the kind of food you get here in Sweden is, no doubt, delicious, at some point you are bound to start missing home-cooked food. To prevent such a thing from happening, my parents sent me with a bunch of spices used in day to day cooking in India. That way, I can make Indian food whenever I feel like it. Since certain spices are either unavailable or too expensive here in Sweden, I would highly recommend just bringing your own. Also, learn to cook, you guys. Not only will it massively help you when you have nobody to cook you food, it is also an essential life skill.
Rest-days are great. You can stay at home and do a grand total of nothing without any guilt. However, if you stay indoors with no company (Netflix and TikTok do not count as company) for long periods of time, it can affect your mood and mental health negatively. My biggest recommendation here would be to stick to some kind of schedule. It should be easy for the most part since you would have classes during the day. The catch here is to actually attend those classes- even those that are not marked as mandatory. Yes, you will learn if you attend class, but you will meet your friends and engage your brain and body in the process. You can pay attention to the lectures, eat lunch with your peers, go to Biomedicum and buy coffee during 15 minute breaks, and study/hang out with your friends once class is done. On a whole other note, if you are a fee paying student like me then not attending class is essentially a few thousand euros down the drain, just saying.
Try to keep yourself engaged. This does not translate to “be busy 24×7”, but don’t allow yourself to create a void in your life by isolating yourself. It will make your homesickness worse.
Strong support system
What do you do when you leave your support system behind in a different country? You make a new one! Make friends and meaningful connections early on during your time here at KI. If you ever need a laugh, if you need company to sit and study in silence, if you need someone to help transport furniture between places (true story), or if you need a shoulder to lean on- physically and metaphorically- these are the people that will come through. I have had so many days where I just felt blue, but a few moments spent with even one of my friends made it all better. Between wildly competitive games and nearly disastrous cooking adventures, these people have never let me feel alone or isolated. So, find your people in a new setting. It does wonders for your mental health.
Moving away from home can be a daunting experience. There will be days when you miss your family and friends back in your country and no matter what you do, the feeling just won’t go away. I can tell you right now that it’s okay to feel homesick even months into living in a different place. I usually just ride the feeling out, and try to call my family regularly (my mother will argue that I don’t). It’s okay to have bad days.
I hope you found this blog helpful, and I want you to remember that you are not alone. If you have any questions, you know where to find me.
My name is Naomi, and I am from India. I am a first-year master’s student in Biomedicine. I have always been drawn towards research and knew early on that a career built around it was the one for me. So as a result, here I am! I enjoy spending time with my friends and exploring the city with them (though the introvert in me also loves some alone time). I hope I can be of some help with my blogs!