As a student studying abroad, it is more than likely you will get homesick. Before I left home last September, I remember thinking there is no way this affliction will affect me, I thought I was too old and too tired of my life at home to really miss it during my year away. After the novelty of a new place and new people wears off, and the struggles of everyday assimilation are behind you, you'll begin to miss the people and places you left behind. Here are some tips I have for the student embarking on their first long stint away from home.
1. Do Everything You Possibly Can
When you're feeling sad, it's important to try new things and do all the fun and exciting activities your new city and friends have to offer. After all, you were looking for new experiences or you wouldn't have left home in the first place! Make it worth your time away. Travel as much as possible, even if you feel defeated sometimes; take advantage of your location overseas and the cheaper travel costs on your new continent.
2. Don’t Compare Everything, Take it as New Experience
I am very guilty of constantly comparing my new surroundings with my old, especially with food, weather, and crowds (the pizza isn't pizza at all!). But this will just make you focus on the things you miss instead of all the amazing new things your city has to offer, like the better tasting beer or the friendliness of the people!
3. Leave the Photo Collages at Home
I knew going into this year not to bring too many things that would constantly remind me of home, specifically all of the photos I adorned my undergraduate dorm rooms with. Displaying photos will only constantly remind you of the people you're missing. You can always see their lovely faces on Facebook or via Skype, but you don't need to torture yourself with decorations of the people who love you most and are 3,000 miles away, you're just inviting trouble.
5. Keep in Touch and Have Visitors
Technology these days is absolutely incredible. Whenever I am feeling lonely or misunderstood, I hop on Gchat, Facebook, Skype or FaceTime and am instantly reminded how close I still am to the people who love and support me at home. Despite the distance, we're never really out of touch, which some would see as a bad thing, but is quite the positive for the homesick student abroad.
6. It's Temporary
You're abroad to study or get a degree. If you find yourself feeling down, just remember, you're doing this for a reason, and focusing on that reason will not only make you more successful in your endeavors, but will surely take up a lot of the time you may otherwise spend feeling alone. There's a common stress, maybe boredom, but definitely solidarity found inside a stuffy library on the sunniest day you've seen all year. You'll never be alone when end of year deadlines loom.
Find comfort in the fact that you're only in your new city for a year or a semester. The truth is, you're likely to miss it as soon as you're back home, which is probably sooner then you expect. Enjoy your time away and take advantage of all your new home has to offer.
Photo: Amy Wiener