How I stayed in touch with my culture while away from home – by Esosa Oduware

a young girl

Blog written by Student Life Content Creator Esosa Oduware.

Moving to a different country as an international student is both exciting and difficult at times. In my case, I loved being in a different environment but once I settled into my accommodation and said goodbye to my family, the homesickness settled in. I had left my home in Nigeria and felt very excited to be starting university. However, as much as I enjoyed the familiar environment of the UK due to our numerous family vacations over the years, missing home was surely inevitable.

In this blog I am going to share four things that helped me to stay in touch with my culture while away from home:

  • Bringing memorable items from home

I love to look around my room and see things that remind me of home. It could be a gift from a childhood friend, a stuffed animal, or even a decorative item. In my case, my favourite item was a pink bag given to me by my mother, which I have had for the longest time. Whenever I looked at that bag it immediately reminded me of home. Additionally, I also brought along some local snacks, jewellery, decorations, shea butter (popular in Nigeria & very good for my hair), devotionals and so much more. These items reminded me of home instantly and I felt a little less homesick but more at ease because my environment felt a bit more familiar.

  • Cooking traditional meals from home

Trying new recipes is a very fun way to explore food in a different environment. What was even better for me was cooking meals eaten when I was back at home. Whenever my parents came over for a visit, they brought a large number of local ingredients that are difficult to source in the UK and that was enough to get me excited. These included items such as powdered milk, crayfish powder, special spices, noodles, plantain chips etc. The fun part about this is that I had no idea how to cook some of my local meals. However, all the more fun was the process of watching YouTube tutorials and sending pictures of the finished product to my parents to rate from 1 to 10 like when I made this puff-puff.

  • Keeping in touch with friends and family

It is very understandable that distance affects relationships but I try my hardest to keep in touch with my loved ones amidst the busyness of university. I love to catch up with my friends about our school experiences, memories, future plans, and so on. I speak to my family members every week and we always like to chat about how I’m doing in school and how things are going back home. Reminiscing on old times is quite fun and nostalgic and that definitely puts a smile on my face.

  • Wearing clothing items from home

My last method on how I stayed in touch with my culture is by wearing clothing items from home. In Nigeria, we wear a lot of clothing made out of “Ankara” fabric. Ankara is commonly known as a 100% cotton fabric with tribal-like patterns and motifs which is popular in Africa. I love to wear clothing items tailored for me back at home and I also have a lot of Ankara fabric as sewing is my newfound hobby. Having beautiful fabrics reminds me of home and makes me anticipate what kind of items I want to sew with them.

Being away from home is not an easy position to be in as you will surely miss your friends and family members. I sincerely hope that the tips given above will help reduce your feelings of homesickness. Remember, you are never too far from home when you bring some of your home with you!

Additionally, if you are finding it difficult to settle in the university and need to open up to someone, do contact the welfare service at the university as they will be able to support and give you advice to help you settle into university life.

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