Why is the end of the fourth month, 17th of June, significant enough to write a post? Most people would pick the third, sixth or even a year. This story begins like this… When I came here, I met an education agent from the Philippines who told me research proves that it takes four months for an international student to settle in completely, for the homesickness to run its full course.
So, this is me praying hard that I have settled in and handled the struggles of an international student somewhat competently.
The first month, I was living with my Filipino home-stay host and I still felt like I had a shoulder to lean on when I get tired of being an adult. I never had to worry about meals and she’d make sure I had food to eat and she gave me complete freedom, though I was ridden by homesickness to actually enjoy it completely and became withdrawn from her and her partner.
There were dinner nights I was forced to socialize when all I ever wanted to do was to shut myself in the room and cry to sleep because I wanted my friends from Malaysia. I’m chuckling now when I think about it because it feels childish. Feels like one of those moments from my kindergarten when I was hanging on to my sister because I didn’t want to go in and make new friends (a memory that still makes me laugh). My home-stay host was definitely trying her best, she cooked spicy dishes even though she doesn’t eat them and bought Indian food (it was horrible) to make me feel better but I hate to say it wasn’t very successful. At the end of week four, I managed to move out to a room in a shared house right opposite university. I was participating in all kind of university events I can find in hopes of finding for friends I can bond with. It was an alright month for me. This is when things started getting interesting.
The second month, I had well and truly moved out of the home-stay and started living in a room in a shared house. How exciting! However, trust me when I say it was so very lonely. I appreciate my friends, but I definitely felt like I couldn’t confide in people about my struggle of finding new friends. Everyone thought I was having the time of my life but in reality I was approaching another low point in my life. I went to university, attended the workshops, different events, trying to find someone and form a bond. I got desperate. I turned to the internet, specifically to an anonymous online application on my phone with hopes of finding friends.
I spoke to so many people on there, some for days, yet they still turn out to be judgmental when they find out that I am a Malaysian. Some people were just very seedy and wanted to date. Unfortunately, my idea of a relationship and dating differs from the conventional way. I ended up moving a lot of people into the friend-zone which didn’t go down very well. Through all this no one was genuinely interested in becoming a friend.
By luck, I started a conversation with someone new. Someone who seemed to not have an ulterior motive. After weeks of talking, my new online buddy appeared to have the exact qualities of what I want in a friend. This friend is genuine, just blurts out what is on their mind and happens to be non-judgmental. Yay! That was a jackpot moment in my journey thus far. Meanwhile, I managed to make some acquaintances from my lecture classes and social events too. Things were looking up.