Why I did not feel homesick when studying abroad in Japan?
As international students and being far away from home, who would not have felt homesick, and, at least once, cried and yearned for a chance to come back home, right?
A great start in Japan
As a vivacious girl and very confident in my ability to adapt to a new environment, I was certain about my decision to study abroad in Japan and that I like and had learned enough about Japan to be able to live alone in that country.
Then, on the evening of September 13th, 2018, right on my 18th birthday, I waved my parents goodbye and eagerly stepped on the plane that would take me to a brand new page of my life.
And so, I went to Japan.
For the first few months, my journey here was fascinating and colourful. I made new friends in the dormitory; got used to having a small room of my own and having full control of my life; familiarized myself with the hectic schedule of Japanese classes, extracurricular and cultural exchanging activities; got accustomed to each and every corner of Beppu and quick homemade dishes.
Also, I got used to my new life, a life of my own. At the same time, the 18 years that I spent with my family slowly faded into memory.
And here comes the Tet holiday...
When I was in Japan for 5 months, I had never experienced culture shock and or homesickness. When I was browsing Instagram, I saw my friends posting pictures of food or their families with a burning sense of homesickness, some even cried to me because they wanted to come back to Vietnam to have a meal with their parents.
I felt sorry for my friends, yet I could not feel those emotions. Sometimes I thought, maybe I was lucky enough to have relatively good mental health and optimism? Sometimes I wondered was it because I was careless or I did not love my family enough?
Then, the first Tet holiday away from home came when the busyness and the burden of exams weighed on my shoulders. I still remember, that year, the Tet holiday came soon...
2 weeks before Tet, I called home and saw that my brother was going to have a break from school and was excited about the new shirt and pair of shoes my father just bought for him. That reminded me of the joy every time I had a break from school to celebrate Tet.
1 week before Tet, when my mom began the Land Genie and Kitchen Gods ceremony, I started to crave the spring rolls my grandmother made and the lean pork paste my grandfather made.
During the Tet holiday, I had an exam to sit and felt a little bit upset. I missed all the things I used to do when the Tet holiday came close.
I missed the pistachio, my favourite thing about the Tet holiday, that my mom would buy even though its price increased.
I missed the meal on the New year's eve in Lunar calendar when my whole family would hop in the car to go to my grandparents' house and enjoy the meal with grandpa's lean pork paste, grandma's spring rolls, and bánh chưng (the chung cake) from her favorite shop.
I remembered that every time my family finished eating, we would hurriedly come home to see the "Year-end gathering", but always missed the first 20 minutes.
I missed the laughter of my family when we watched the show, even missed the years when the show was not good and was criticized by my father and me.
I missed the times when I put candies and jams on the "immortal" tray that my family had used for a decade.
I missed the image of my father in a suit, walking downstairs and giving us lucky money when the clock hit 12 o'clock.
I missed the times when I offered the incense with my mother and stood on the 4th floor waiting for fireworks.
I missed many things because to me, Tet is something very special...
This Tet holiday... I lied in bed and recalled every memory. This Tet holiday, I only celebrated it with my parents for 10 minutes via phone. This Tet holiday, I cried for the first time because being in a place very far from home.
This Tet holiday, I missed my family...
Please wait for part 2 to read about my homesickness!
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