Today's post comes to us from Keith Mushonga, a French and English student at Winthrop University. You may remember some of his earlier posts - Keith writes with a great deal of vigor and emotion. Today's post is on a topic common to all - but I imagine especially among international students: loneliness. It's a moving account of an experience that can be difficult for many.

One day I came home from an evening class, and I felt sad and lonely. So, on my way to my apartment I stopped by a small pond near one of the residence halls. I looked into it and saw its clear water sparkling like diamonds; its waves were undulating like the waves of a stream. There were small pipes around the pond where the water was coming from, and they were bubbling the water out like springs that bring water up from the center of the earth. Suddenly, I felt like I was standing by some valley somewhere in the Amazon, or back home by the Zambezi. And as the water circled back and forth I started to see some familiar faces, witch made me leaned closer to the pond. I saw my sister and my mom; I felt my mom reach out to me and give me a hug. I saw my sister dropping a tear; and I also felt like dropping in a tear and a kiss. But my mom whispered to me in a calm voice, ?Go on, boy. Be strong. Life must go on.?

I?d had a rough day of school and work. I'd spent a couple of hours in a cold place, reading and translating French papers; and a couple more in class, taking notes. Packing it all in one day?s briefcase had made me as dry like a twig. I almost snapped. Still, I walked away from that pond feeling stronger. I walked past the parking lot and lamp lights with my head held high. I felt like a heavy weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

It?s not always easy being far away from home. I?ve not seen my family for a little over a year. Yes, I do Skype with them once in a while, but it?s never the same. In fact, it makes me miss them even more. Seeing their faces through a tiny computer screen is like looking into a lake, seeing your reflection, reaching out for it and walking out wet. It only frustrates you! It?s never the same when they are not really there; when you can?t hear their real voices, smell your mom?s cooking, get into a brawl with your brother and have your little sister look up to you. It?s never the same when your mom can?t tell you a soft, mood lifting word.

You chat with your brother on Facebook, but the talk keeps rolling back and forth with cryptic smiley faces. So you learn that words and voices are not the same. So you miss them all, and hope to soon hug and kiss them.

But, at least, for now, I can always go to that pond. I can always stand by it and hear it singing to me like Celine Dion. I can smile at it and see its waves smiling back. And I can see other people walking past it not bothering themselves about it. To them, it is nothing but a lime and murky pool with dry leaves and dirt, but to me it is the cleanest place on campus; I can stand by it, alone, and be with my family.