An Unexpected Emotional Departure: Studying Abroad

It’s currently the third day after I landed in Adelaide and sometimes everything still feels surreal. It doesn’t seem as though I’m in a different continent from my family, that I wouldn’t see them for the next 9 months or so. This departure for my second academic year at Uni was definitely unexpected – I wasn’t due to return so early. In fact, my original plan was to leave Singapore on 26 February, instead of 15 February, a good 11 days earlier.

On 13 February night, literally 2 days before I caught the plane, THAT was when I made the sudden decision to push forward my departure date. It’s crazy – this decision of mine was very sudden, even for me, and I had nothing planned nor packed. Totally unlike me given that I’m the kind of person that maps out my schedule, has a to-pack list typed out a week in advance…

The whole reason why I decided to push forward my flight was because of the coronavirus situation back in Singapore. New cases popped up every single day, and with the travel ban imposed on students from Mainland China, I feared that Singapore too might face the same travel restrictions. Every night, headline news regarding the number of cases would cause my anxiety levels to spike. I was fearful of possible disruptions to my education, fearful that I might be infected given the high population density in Singapore. The night I made my decision to fly was the night whereby the highest number of cases in a day was discovered. I also found out that my friend pushed her flight forward too, in fact she was flying off that very night.

After making my decision, I had limited time to pack 9 months worth of belongings into a luggage. Probably one of the shortest amount of time I was given to pack, though I had prior experience whereby I literally booked a flight on the very day itself due to unforeseen circumstances. I managed to sort everything out with regards to accommodation – thank goodness my Uni was really efficient in handling my urgent sudden request and allowed me to move into my room in advance. And I was so thankful that it was still a weekday, otherwise I’d have to wait past the weekend to get a reply.

Logistically speaking, all was well and sorted. But a day after I made the decision, there was a part of me that started to regret. Sitting in my room, looking around, it suddenly hit me how this was one of my last few times here in a long while. I was physically prepared, but emotionally? Not a chance, I’ve still got a long long way to go. By leaving early, I had to cancel meetups with friends, gatherings with family, and I was not ready to leave on such notice…

I thought I would cry at the departure gates, but no tears fell just like all the other times. My heart was very heavy though, when I hugged my dad, my mom and my sis…

It’s always the subsequent times that homesickness hits the hardest. Not the first time – you’re too busy feeling excited about being an adult and living alone in a whole new environment, with many activities planned to keep your wandering mind occupied. But the next few times? It hits, and hard. That’s because you’ve reunited with your family and friends and spent amazing quality time with them, and having to leave that all behind once more? It’s like getting a tear in your heart, one for every departure.

As the saying goes, ‘Time heals all wounds”. And for this case, it does indeed. After a while, you get used to living alone once more, and schoolwork keeps you occupied. You find things to entertain yourself, seek out new places to explore. I truly can’t wait for this bout of homesickness to pass, so that I can return to my normal usual bubbly self and be positive!

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