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Studying abroad sounded great when you booked your flight and accommodations. Even the ride to the airport, boarding the plane, and the flight was exciting. But now you’ve been in this new place for a few days, maybe even a week or more, and while you know this is a great adventure you didn’t expect to miss your home as much as you do.
Are You Homesick abroad?
You won’t know what could trigger your homesickness until you experience it, but some signs are wanting to frequently call family and friends back home or unfavorably comparing everything in your new country to everything back home. Or you might be overwhelmed with loneliness, causing you to withdraw and refuse to make new friends. Whatever is happening to you, these feelings are normal with a big life change like this. But you don’t want to let them consume you – so we have some easy and creative tips to help you overcome feeling homesick.
Face-to-face contact with loved ones can help ease your loneliness. Schedule time once a week to chat with your parents and BFF back home. But don’t stay in your room Skyping 24/7 or you’ll miss all the amazing things your time abroad has to offer.
Use Social Media to Stay Connected to Friends at Home
Social media makes this big, wide world a little bit smaller. Use it to feel more connected to your family and friends. Rather than just watching their Facebook feed, which could remind you of everything you’re missing at home, rely on chat and more immediate communication. Don’t forget to use Facebook and Instagram to share chronicles of your journey, too. The people at home want to see your adventures, and you’ll love being able to look back and see a photo chronicle of the amazing things you did abroad.
Journal about Your Experiences
While sharing photos on social media can help you record your trip, writing about them is a great way to remember all the details. Consider keeping a written journal during your travels. Not only will it be fun to go back and read one day, it can also help you sort out your feelings in the moment.
Create a New Routine
There is more to being homesick than just missing your home.
“You’re not literally just missing your house,” Josh Klapow, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at the University of Alabama’s School of Public Health, said. “You’re missing what’s normal, what is routine, the larger sense of social space, because those are the things that help us survive,”
It makes sense, then, to form a new routine. Although life abroad can be hectic and filled with new experiences each day, set aside some consistent quiet time. Maybe it’s a morning run, or an afternoon espresso at the same café. Once you implement a routine of sorts, you’ll slowly develop a “new normal.”
If homesickness is about missing the emotional comfort of home, you can alleviate those feelings with comfort foods. A little “taste” of home can make you feel better. Skype your mom for some of your favorite childhood recipes, run to the market for the ingredients, and start cooking. Better yet, invite some of your new friends over to share the meal.
Hosting a small dinner party is a great way to get closer to people at school or at your job. Or, if you’d like to stretch outside these social circles, you can get to know other locals. Use the Internet to find people with shared interests, or join an organization where you can meet people while you volunteer. Elderly people might have great stories to share about their home’s history, while friends your age can show you the best spots to hang out.
Pack Your Schedule
Instead of staying at home, wallowing in your loneliness, fill your schedule so you don’t have time to be homesick. Make the most of your time overseas by volunteering, working, studying, and exploring. Participate in a group tour of local landmarks or take to checking out some of the city streets on your own.
It Does Get Better
“Don’t let yourself believe for one second that you would be happier anywhere else than where you’re studying abroad,” Nate Nault, author of “The Ultimate Study Abroad Guide,” said.
At some point during your trip, you’ll have a moment when you realize you have the opportunity to live your dreams in a foreign country. Although the homesickness may not completely disappear, you’ll have more good days than bad as you begin to adapt to life overseas. You’ll realize that life at home wasn’t always perfect, either, and your life is what you make of it, wherever you might be.
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