Confessions of an International Student

There comes a point where we all have to be away from the ones we love and care for the most— whether it’s family, friends or even just…food. For some of us, that means being much farther than a car drive away. Throughout my time at Queen’s, being literal oceans away from my home and family, I’ve experienced a couple of things that I’m sure anyone far from home is quite familiar with:

1. Disconnection
You’re left out of birthdays, weddings, parties, and you’ve missed out on all the Facebook tags and Instagram pictures back home. Even your birthday used to be a big deal, and now the most you’ll get is a Facebook post, or a voicemail if you’re really, really lucky.

2. The shift in appearances
You’re sent pictures and your cousin is suddenly 6 feet tall, your brother grew a beard, and your sister has boobs.

3. Unlimited Phone apps
Viber, Whatsapp, Fongo, Line, even Magic Jack— you’ve gotta have them all. And somehow, your family and friends manage to connect with you using every single one.

4. The accent
Everyone around you keeps saying, “Your accent is so Canadian now!” and you just never seem to understand it.

5. You’re basically a time(zone) machine
You know the times in multiple countries and cities by heart.

6. Food, UGH, FOOOOOD
NOTHING, and I repeat nothing, will compare to the food back home, whether it’s your mom’s food, your grandma’s food, restaurants, or the food at gatherings. It’s just never the same here and it never will be.

7. Winter is coming
You never really knew what heaters, thermals, and earmuffs were before you came here. You also never grasped the true meaning of “feels like -30°C” until you experienced a Canadian winter.

8. But at the same time, no air conditioning???
How can a building not be equipped with air conditioning? How can you sign a lease to an apartment with no air conditioning? Come again?

9. You don’t belong
No matter what you do, how many friends you make, or how much you decorate your room to look like it did back home, there’s always this feeling of being disconnected. You don’t always feel comfortable or in your zone, and nothing will compare to that feeling you have when you’re home.

10. If you’re from the same country, you’re basically instant best friends
The moment you meet someone that’s from your home country, you just become soul mates, best friends— you’re inseparable. I gotchu, you got me.

11. “Haha that was so funny” *NOT*
You don’t really get everyone’s jokes and no one gets yours either. The senses of humor sometimes just…clash.

12. You’re basically the only person here during Thanksgiving
If there’s any holiday that is less than two weeks, everyone knows you won’t be going anywhere. I mean, is it really worth the 48-hour travel and the horrible jet lag for one long weekend?

13. Homesickness
It’s real and it exists and it sucks. You start playing songs from back home or watching silly videos of your family, even calling your friends with no purpose other than to hear their voice.

14. The entire city shuts down at 9 pm
Just when you have started understanding the concept of dinner at 4 pm, you learn that there are no coffee shops, stores, or malls that are open past 9 pm. And what’s even more bizarre: weekend hours are shorter!

15. Speaking your mother tongue
Like some undercover Mafioso, you can say anything you want in your mother tongue and no one will ever understand.

At the end of the day, just know that the bad times will pass and the good days will become some of your best memories. So enjoy this journey to the best of your ability and make the most out of it!

Yours Creatively,

Rawan Abdelaatty, Online Columnist