Dear Mary Pat,
I just got here for the summer from Poland and I’m really homesick. My bosses are nice (I have three jobs) but I don’t like my roommates and everything is so different here – food is strange, no buses, and I miss my family. I am 20 and this is my first time away from home. I want to leave but my family says I should stay. I don’t know what to do.
Sad for Home
Dear Sad for Home,
This is very typical and I know just how overwhelming it can be. When I was 20, I studied in France for eight months and I was really panicked when I first arrived. The French that I learned in books did not seem to be anything like the French I was hearing from my teachers, I didn’t know anyone and I was on a pretty small budget. Oh, and I didn’t really care for my roommate either. I knew that things would get better and they really did. I’m still friends with some of the people I met there (except my roommate – she really was strange!).
As a wise local just told me yesterday, the key is to be a “good camper” and that will make all the difference. Your roommates might not be your favorite, but you just need to respect them and their space (and hopefully they will do the same) and learn to get along. You don’t need to be best friends, just friendly enough to share a space with them. Look elsewhere maybe for some new friends.
Also, there is a great group up here called Door County BRIDGES of Friendship. They take all of the international students/workers on different outings throughout the summer and pair them with a host family too. I would recommend getting in touch soon. They have outings every Tuesday (dcbridges.org).
Things are different here and I know there aren’t any buses, but try to focus on the really good things like sunsets that take your breath away and friendly locals who want to get to know you and just the great adventure of being in an entirely new country for the summer. I hope that you settle in soon and have a feeling that you will.