This week, my Instagram feed was flooded with pictures from Holi, the festival of colors that is typically celebrated in March in Nepal and India. For me growing up, Holi, which is a Hindu tradition, had less religious significance and was largely cultural, providing me with a day to play with color and water with loved ones.
As an international student, being away from home means being disconnected from cultural traditions. Although I feel so grateful to be able to see my family celebrating together with color smeared on their faces, I can’t help but feel far away from home.
But while a cultural disconnect was inevitable, the feeling of guilt for not staying in the loop with what’s happening back home grows when I catch glimpses of news article headlines or posts that friends on social media share. It had been a while since I opened online news portals or read articles about what was happening in Nepal. When you’re so focused on classes, work, and adjusting to college life, it’s hard to stay in touch with what’s happening at home. Even catching up with family members and old friends takes weeks to schedule.
While I am well-versed in the politics of the state and country I am in, I wouldn’t be able to tell you what’s happening politically at home. I didn’t know about the recent turmoil in Nepal’s Supreme Court, how global crises were impacting living costs in Nepal, or how the melting of the glaciers in the Himalayas was increasing rapidly.
In all honesty, I don’t know how to do a better job of keeping up to date with everything. The news cycle in the US and at home is changing constantly, and can sometimes feel incredibly overwhelming. But at least here in Rochester, the everyday buzz keeps you in the loop about what’s happening outside the campus bubble. Keeping up with news from home, however, requires the extra individual effort I just can’t muster up while dealing with everything else I have to do here. Talking to other international students, the sentiment seems to be common between us. The constant struggle of staying up to date with what’s happening at home while being present here is prevalent for many of us. Maybe that’s just the reality of living abroad, and all we can do is our best.
But with the opportunity to celebrate Holi away from home with friends at the University, and learning to forgive myself for not staying up to date with what’s happening in my country, I will be thankful for even the tiniest connection to home while being thousands of miles away.