Adjusting to New Friends and Family

If you’re an international student considering Ryerson but are worried about finding friends in a whole new country, here’s my story.

Four years ago I chose Canada – and more specifically Ryerson – for many reasons that I will speak about in future blog posts. But the last time I was with my family was more than a year ago, which feels almost painfully sad sometimes because for 17 years of my life my family and I were inseparable – they were my best friends. I also literally could not function without them. Laundry? Cooking? Life advice? I would turn to them for practically everything.

New home, new life

New home, new life

A little bit about me

As a child, I would move countries every three to four years. It came with beautiful opportunities such as experiencing new parts of the world and accumulating a global network of friends. However, it also meant leaving behind friends repeatedly. Although this part never got easier, I was okay because it just meant I was going to be continuously adding on to my network of friends from around the world.

To this day I speak to most of my friends from my high school in South Africa and anytime they’re here or I’m in one of their countries, we make sure to reconnect over coffee and tourist attractions!

With all that travelling, I came to decide that I want to travel somewhere far from ‘home’ for my post-secondary education because it just felt natural to continue exploring different parts of the world. I knew that it meant leaving my family behind, but at the time I didn’t completely understand what that would turn out like for me.

 

Homesick everywhere

Homesick everywhere

Starting in Toronto

When I first started my journey at Ryerson, I felt homesick for weeks. I wouldn’t get off the phone with my family or my friends from back in high school. I thought because of all the moving around I had done as a child, I would be fine here as well, but those times were different than this time. For the first time, I didn’t have my family to help with the transitioning.

In my first semester, I flew home quite a few times to help with the homesickness. But it only helped me deal with it temporarily. At the start of my second semester, I realized I had less than three good friends here. I realized, in order to truly be able to treat my homesickness, I had to give this place a real chance.

What next?

As soon as I decided to begin living in the moment, going to all my classes, applying to various on-campus jobs and extracurricular activities, life-altering opportunities started falling into my lap. I enabled myself to meet some of the best people, attend most amazing events, visit Toronto’s most stunning spots, get the greatest jobs in my field of interest, and so much more.

I still hop on calls with my family every other weekend and our group chat is always going off! I just had to come to terms with the fact that I live here now and I need to adapt to a life without them – which meant also spending time with the people here.

Last time I visited them a year ago, I had the nicest time but for the first time – I was homesick for Toronto!

Bob Saget family dinner | Giphy.com

Friends & Family Everywhere

I have come to love living in Toronto; this is what feels home to me now. I have a new network of friends and family-away-from-family here. I love them, trust them, and feel safe with them more than I ever thought I would.

But trust me, I do still always miss my biological family back home – a LOT. But thanks to technology, they’re always only a text or phone call away!

What I’ve learned, being an international student for so long is that I will always be homesick for a different country or for different people, no matter where I go. But that’s okay because that just means I have people I can call family all over the world.

Also, just a few weeks ago, I found out that my little brother has chosen to come to Canada for university next year! I’m over the moon and cannot wait to have some family in the same country as me!

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Emma