Saying goodbye happens so often for us international students!
The day I said goodbye to Nico, my husband, at the airport I couldn’t help crying silent tears. He went from the UK to the US to attend an academic conference for only a week, but I already felt emotional because it reminded me of the many goodbyes I have said since I came to the UK.
I think one of the biggest challenges for international students is to deal with permanent or temporary separations from loved ones, no matter whether we are the ones to leave or remain.
The tightening of visa requirements for postgraduates in the UK makes it more difficult to stay after studying, so most of my international classmates returned to their home countries after just knowing them for one year. I remember the extremely heart-breaking moment I had to say farewell to my Japanese friend, who was also my bridesmaid, without knowing when we will meet again. Although we kept email contact for a while after she was gone, the friendship stops growing at some point.
I have come to realise that as far as separation is concerned, much focus is put on those in romantic relationships or separation caused by death. Yet, seldom do we address the anxiety and grief elicited by the permanent or temporary separations international students regularly encounter. When we left our families, friendships, colleagues, or partners behind in our home countries and shed our tears, we assumed this was just part of life and we just had to deal with it.
Have we ever thought about why we feel sad though? I believe one of the reasons is that humans were designed for eternity, meaning that we were supposed to enjoy being together with our loved ones forever. The book of Genesis in the Bible tells us that Adam and Eve only had to face separation after they sinned. Our physical bodies are mortal, but our spiritual beings have the desire for eternity. Unfortunately, human relationships cannot satisfy this desire because all relationships eventually end, voluntarily or involuntarily.
I believe there is only one everlasting relationship. This is promised and fulfilled by the eternal God who created us. Start looking out for this eternal God who can restore an eternal relationship with you this Christmas! You won’t be disappointed!