So you pull the trigger and decide to study abroad! There are a lot of feelings swirling around in your head. You’re anxious to travel, stressed for packing and maybe a little unsure of yourself, but you bury those feelings and make it on the plane. It’s all a flurry when you arrive at your final destination. After all the dust settles around unpacking and possible orientations, you lie in bed that first night and a familiar feeling creeps in.
NO you can’t be homesick already! Don’t worry though, everyone feels it and it’s totally unavoidable. The price of gaining an amazing experience often involves leaving your comfort zone (i.e. your room/house/town/home country). It may feel like it will be an eternity until you’re back home but nothing lasts forever. Here are some tips for treating your case of homesickness:
When you’re abroad, it’s important to focus on where you are. It’s easy to dwell on not being at home when you have nothing else to do. Take as many opportunities as possible to experience the country and culture you are living in. Go on day trip outings and visit historical sites on the weekends. Get out of your comfort zone and do something you’ve never thought to do before (i.e. join the university mountaineering club which as you can see to the right, I definitely did not regret). You may never get the chance again. Plan an exciting trip and give yourself something to look forward to. The planning and execution is a great distraction and even better learning experience. You probably won’t be thinking of home when you’re looking at the Eiffel tower or the Colosseum. Live in the moment and don’t waste a chance to experience something new.
Get Back in Your Comfort Zone
I know I just stressed the fact that you should try new things, but sometimes you just really need the comforts of home. Whenever I was feeling homesick, I found that it helped if I did something that would put me at ease. My favorite thing to do in Cork, Ireland was to go to a coffee shop and just relax with a drink that reminded me of home. You always know what to expect at a coffee shop and in a new country where you’re not sure of a lot of things, I knew buying a coffee would be low stress. There was even a Starbucks if I was feeling really homesick. But it could be as simple as watching your favorite movie on your computer or listening to a familiar song. It’s okay to give in every once in a while.
Keep In Contact
You may start feeling lonesome when you’re abroad. There are a lot of new faces and people to meet but you can still feel alone. Give someone a call! You may have originally been excited to get away from your old ball and chain (aka. Mom and Dad) but you’d be surprised how nice it will be to hear their voices or see their faces as they nag you from across the globe. You may not have texting, but I’ve found that Facebook messaging is just as convenient to share a quick thought with a friend back home.
University College Cork, Ireland