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Growing up, I have never lived anywhere else besides Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I grew up in the tropical heat, monsoon thunderstorms and knew very little about the standard four seasons. I’ve been outside Malaysia before, but never for more than a week or two.

Just a month after my 27th birthday, I left home for university for the first time. I was excited at the prospect of living in a new environment but I knew I was going to be homesick — only I didn’t realise how intense it would be.



My life for the next year crammed in a suitcase and a backpack.

There’s no shame being overly-attached to your family or where you come from – everyone feels homesick, even those who are from some place in the UK that’s probably two hours train ride away.

I believe that good home-cooked meals are one of the best remedies for homesickness. So while you’re packing your bags, pack family recipes with you. Even if you’re not the best cook, ask mum, dad, siblings, aunts or your gran even to teach you how to cook simple wholesome meals. After all, you can’t live off ready meals all the time.

Meal 1Meal 2(Top) Creamy butter chicken with vegetables stir-fried in oyster sauce. (Bottom) Hainanese style chicken rice – both are some of the recipes from home, and a great dinner night experience!

Travelling halfway across the world limits the amount of things I could bring with me so bringing 1001 knick-knacks was completely out of the question. So instead I brought along photos, letters and postcards of family and friends. I don’t call home everyday, but seeing the smiling faces on my wall everyday reminds me that I’m doing my family proud.

Lina's photo wall

Some of the faces I see before I go to sleep.

My parents are not incredibly tech savvy so asking them to Skype everyday is completely out of the question. But they have smartphones equipped with Whatsapp and Viber. Both apps allow you to send unlimited text and voice messages and photos over data/WiFi for free, and Viber has a call option, also for free over internet, so I never have to worry about my credit running out. I’ve never been a fan of phone calls – and my family knows this – so text messaging is the best way for me to keep them updated and vice versa.

We all feel homesick sometimes and it’s okay to cry once in a while about it. But know that your family and friends are proud of you for pursuing your studies, even if it is a little later in your life.

So enjoy yourself! Experience new things, connect with the people who are physically around you, and they will be your family, and your home away from home.

Lina and friendsBy Lina Abdul Halim

If you enjoyed Lina’s blog, why not see what else she’s written?

4 Responses to “Home away from home”

  1. Ciayi Lim

    Hi Lina, glad to see someone from Malaysia here, I’m preparing my student visa for Bournemouth Postgrad as well and wonder if you could roughly advise how much should I show in total to the UK Embassy that I have in my bank statement to be sufficient?

    • Lina

      Hi Ciayi!

      That’s so great to hear more Malaysians are interested in coming here! Bournemouth is a lovely place. To answer your question, I think it’s best to check out the UK Government website for this information because I think it’s been updated since I applied. And I’m terrible with managing myself sometimes but the website prepared me with the documents and things I need for my visa:

      Although I will be finishing soon, I do hope to see you and you’ll DEFINITELY have a great time at BU! 😀

  2. Nikitha

    Hi Lina,I am also a postgraduate student starting this September.I am also leaving home for a far off place the first time.I would appreciate it if it is possible for you to give me a brief description of how life at bu was for you.

    Nikitha Ann

    • Lina

      Hi Nikitha!
      Congratulations on starting at BU! My life at BU was a good one and I adapted to life here quite quickly. Of course there were days where I felt incredibly homesick because it’s never easy to leave everything you know for the last 20+ years, but if you learn to make the most out of your time here and make it your home, it’ll be one of the best experiences of your life.


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