Dear International Student from a Wartorn Country,

I told myself I shouldn’t let distance affect my choice of schools, but coming to Stanford has been a big adjustment. I’m from Chicago and it just feels like my family is so far away. I’ve never dealt with homesickness before. What can I do to get my mind off of it and settle down here in California?

Homesick in Haus Mitt

Dear Homesick,

I had not heard this word ‘homesickness’ before, but I think I can relate. In my language we have a word that means ‘the fearful knowledge that everyone you love still lives under the rule of a ruthless dictator.’  It’s hard to translate exactly, but I have this feeling now. Sometimes I feel guilty that I was able to leave my town, while my brothers and sisters still burn barrels of our worthless currency to survive the winter. But I comfort myself with the thought that the same gods who delivered me will care for them if I do them honor by applying myself to my studies. I hope that helped, friend.

Dear International Student from a Wartorn Country,

Everyone here is so active in clubs, but I have my hands full just taking the classes I chose. Sometimes it feels like I’m the only one with any free time. Am I not using my time well enough? How many clubs should I reasonably be in?

Anxious in Alondra

Dear Anxious,

Your talk of clubs reminds me of the band of freedom fighters I joined in my youth – I had to lie to do this because I was not yet 13! It took all of my time to cut holes in the prison fences at night and keep lookout while my partners placed TNT on the bridges to slow the army’s approach. Once I even waited with bomb for 18 hours for an officer to walk below my hiding place so I can drop it on him. He received an anonymous tip and never came.

Dear International Student from a Wartorn Country,

I can’t believe some fraternities have announced their intention to go dry! One of the reasons I chose Stanford was its liberal alcohol policy. I won’t be 21 for two and half more years but I won’t let that stop me from partying. What should I do?

Frustrated in Faison

Dear Frustrated,

Good question. Alcohol is contraband in my country, but it didn’t matter that much. Ovan made illicit vodka in his cellar before they took him away. We often didn’t have enough bread or meat. I remember when my older brother Ivan turned 16 he asked for an egg for his present. My parents went to the black market and sold their wedding sash for three eggs. He was so happy! They took him away a week later.

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