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Derin's Mom

Struggling with homesickness

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Derin's Mom

Hello. My DD (14 y.o) is in Paris (started CNSMDP) and started her new life as a foreigner, away from home, family, language, school... Everything is new, everything is challenge.

She is a very open kid to her feelings, she is mature compared to her peers. She exactly knows why she feels sooo down. She cannot cope up with the new tempo of her life, finds it so hard to understand everything and do her best. She speaks little French, understands but cannot speak well. Language is a natural barrier.

I am trying to keep her up, get her focus on a task to keep her mind busy. But she questions everything at this moment; the school, the change and all.

Are there any advices and thoughts you can share with me, to help her?

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labrador

I am so sorry DD is going through this pain. Her feelings are normal. Her circumstances are very stressful and challenging.

Where can she turn for support nearby?  Is there no friendly ear or shoulder?

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Derin's Mom

Her uncle lives there, takes her for weekends. It is a small relief.

I just want to feel that all will pass, it only requires time.

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mom2

Just dealing with the language issue itself can feel overwhelming, but is perfectly normal.  Given a bit of time she'll start to feel less mentally exhausted.  Hopefully she will also be able to find some young people she can communicate with - at the moment they are probably around, but feeling just as overwhelmed as she is.  Sounds like she's a really good kid who also understands that her family has made sacrifices for her to be where she is, and wants to do well for everyone.  I would just continue to let her know that you love her, and are proud of her.

Hang in there!

 

 

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Derin's Mom

Thank you... I send her small notes and sketches from time to time, telling her to hang in there and be proud of herself 🙂

We miss her and know that she is now AWAY from home and most probably will not be back in the future. That reality is shocking for all of us.

Everyone around is mostly French, so you are right. Once that language barrier is down things will be better.

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Mdballetmom

I cannot imagine how hard that must be. My DD left home for a residential program at 14 and it was really hard. For all of us and there was no language issue. 
Although being homesick is a phase and ultimately makes us stronger, it is certainly not enjoyable to experience or watch! 
Keep sending regular mail... every week or even more often. little notes, gifts, food treats, etc....
and do you facetime or skype?  Its not even close to being there, but its better than a plain phone call. 
And if you are comfortable with it... you could reach out to her host family or even the school to let them know she's struggling a bit.

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dancemaven

Encourage her to keep busy.  It is the down time where the kids start thinking and missing home.  

Be careful when writing and talking with her that your shares don’t give her more reason to feel she’s missing out at home. 

The language barrier will really exacerbate her feelings of isolation, so encourage her to find a friend who would be willing to help her with it.  When DD went to residency, she got a real kick out of helping the ESL (English as a second language) dancers improve their English and her improve her Spanish —and learn a little Japanese in the endeavor. She particularly enjoyed the Japanese speaker who had largely taught herself English by watching “The Family Guy” tv show. 😮. They all got a kick out of helping the dancer understand what she could and could not say at school! 

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Derin's Mom

Mdballetmom,

Thank you all.

we talk on facetime. We try to keep it on certain times of the day. Her uncle is there and takes her at the weekends, so she has the possibility of speaking her mother tongue as well.

But yes, though we know it shall pass, it is not enjoyable to watch and do no help.

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Derin's Mom

dancemaven,

All taken down as a note. Thank you.

Her school mates actually do not speak English much but I know that they do their best for it. And, by the way my DD's mother tongue is not English as well but at least she feels fine with it.

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dancemaven

It doesn’t have to be English.  That was just the example that applied for my DD. 

I really meant for her to look for a friend who speaks the language of the school where she is to help your DD as she learns it. If her classmates don’t speak the school language either, then they can work out a way to help each other.  Perhaps she could take a lead in that and figure a way for them all to work together.  They don’t have to speak hers to help, it just makes it fun for them to learn some of hers in the process. 

Best wishes.  

Being homesick is painful.  It will pass, but is so lonely until one can settle in.  Encouraging her to focus on that and exploring the new situation, rather than focusing on home and familiarity, will help. Knowing how homesick DD was the first time she was in such a different environment was heartbreaking and later when she was able to talk about it, I learned how I had actually been making it worse rather than better by sharing enthusiastically what we were doing while she was gone.  That just made her feel like she was missing everything and more isolated. 

Her uncle’s visit should help—-and he can help her learn the language. 

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Eligus

I know you said her Uncle was there, and he could help her learn the language... but have you considered hiring a professional language tutor?  Someone "not family"?  I mean, I'm sure her brain hurts from trying to assimilate absolutely EVERYTHING, so maybe more classes or tutoring wouldn't be helpful... I don't know .... but I'm wondering if she's a perfectionist (as many ballet girls tend to be) if she'd be more comfortable being a "novice" in front of a professional language teacher, rather than family?  Plus, a teacher would know tips/tricks on increasing the speed of acquisition... ?  Maybe? 

Immersion is a tough road for anyone, and you have my empathy at watching a loved one go through a painful time.

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Eligus

Other potential practical thoughts/suggestions....

* have you analyzed with her WHEN is the worst time for her?  Is there any particular thing that triggers the feelings?  Is there any way the two of you could think of things to ameliorate those situations?  (i.e., listening to meditation app before sleep, so her brain is focused on something other than home when everything is quiet; or make a list of the reasons WHY she chose to be away from home right now -- a sort of written "goal" list, that will help her remember why she's going through the hard times; or ask someone to eat with her, if it's at meal times);

* have a literal countdown calendar for time left until she can come home (or you go) to visit;

* make sure she has pictures up to remind her of her support group;

* give her a "deadline" of sorts -- for example, tell her it takes (3 months, for example) to assimilate to a new place, and mark that date on her calendar.  Then tell her you and she can re-assess how she is feeling then.    Sometimes, when you are going through a hard time, (especially for teenagers) it can feel ENDLESS, but if you know it will be "only" 3 months, it becomes easier to bear;

* build up her confidence.  Remind her of her strengths.  I found my kids were more homesick if they felt vulnerable/unsure of themselves and/or their ability to handle their emotions.  Assure them they CAN do this. 

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Ballet6706

I am so sorry both you + your daughter are going through this. (hug) While our situation is not the same as yours, my daughter is away at a residential program too. Like was suggested, picking one time when she can depend on you to be there for her really helps - it helps both of us actually. I avoid mentioning things I know she would be said to miss - like her favorite dinner. She loves that I am on snapchat and we both send snaps of whatever we are doing that day - even the mundane things like a photo of a sink full of dishes or the vacuum cleaner with funny caption. Nothing she would miss, but it makes her feel connected to me. She told me that herself. Is she comfortable in her room? It is a long way to send something but maybe filling her room with a few familiar things will make her feel more at home? 

There are so many good points on this thread! I hope things get easier. 

 

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fuddyduddy

My DD is also 14 and went away to a residential school. The homesickness is real!!

 

One thing i try really hard not to do is say how much I miss her. I talk about the meals we are eating that she hates, we will tell her what we are doing, and we tell her how much we love her, but I don't make a dramatic "oh, I miss you so much and I can't wait to see you!!" type pleas. That will only make it harder, I think. 

I also read online that if you make yourself TOO available with texting that it can be more harmful, because it means they run to you 100 times a day instead of any new friends. So, although I always answer my DDs texts, I will tell her things like, "I'm off to work. Talk to you when I get home!" It does seem to help both of us get a break from the homesickness.

Good luck!!! ❤️ 

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GratefulMom

I love so many suggestions here!

I moved to Paris for a year for my job as a 32-year-old finance executive and I was so very overwhelmed by the transition and language (and cultural) barrier!  So when I think of a 14-year-old doing it, and in the context of ballet training, well I just want to say: what a strong and wonderful daughter you have for being brave enough to show up for her adventure!!! 

I am so proud of her and I don’t even know her!  Paris is a wonderful but also hard place to live (and I love city living).   

i think you are in Turkey (am I making that up in my head from posts over the years?) so I’m wondering if you might be planning a visit at some point in the next few months.  Her showing you around, showing you her favorite spots, speaking a little French, translating for you, etc might help her feel more ownership of her new Parisian life.

Ill add my own tip: the ONE place that people aren’t in a hurry in Paris is in food shops during odd hours.  I learned so much French by stopping in the butcher shop or the produce shop or the specialty Italian pasta store or cheese shop — they were always happy to hear my questions in broken French and tell me all about their favorite topic: their food.  Food folks Love to connect. (For the most part). 

Ps. I ended up staying in Paris for 4 years and marrying a man I met from the south of France, despite all my certainties that I would only live there for a year. Now my entire life is half French and we have four daughters, all French citizens. 

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