I’m now almost finished my first semester of my study abroad program. And what a crazy few months this has been! I’m having the time of my life, but it hasn’t been all sunshines and rainbows. I’ve struggled with homesickness on and off throughout the semester. But what I’ve learned is that it is so common and it is just a natural part of the experience.
So heres a few pointers I picked up along the way to help me deal with and overcome my homesickness:
- Communicate with loved ones.
I kept in touch with my friends and family back home. FaceTime is a wonderful thing, and I have often found myself joining in on the Sunday family breakfast – it may be night time here, but the banter is still just as much fun. Schedule a time every few days – or every day at first – to chat with your family, friends, pets, significant others.
- Talk about it with new friends!
One of the most wonderful things about having a roommate is that when you’re in each other’s space for so long you become so close. Bridget became one of my best friends, and every time I missed home I would talk to her about it. If you are lucky enough to get the opportunity to visit your roommates hometown and meet their family DO IT! I now have an American family that, although they’re not my own, make me feel so at home.
- Make your new space your own.
Dorm rooms are pretty hostile at first. Pick a colour theme and decorate to your hearts content! I stuck up photos, strung fairy lights and brought some moments from home with me. Its important to feel comfortable and at home in your new room so do everything you can to make it YOU!
- Surround yourself with people you trust.
Pretty self explanatory, but really, if you get bad vibes from someone who is supposed to be your new friend, stop hanging out. I finished this semester with different people than I came into it with. Make sure that the new friends you have listen to you when you’re down, and that they make you feel comfortable and are trustworthy. You may feel more vulnerable – you are in a different country after all, so now is not the time for negative influences. I was so lucky to make friends with the most amazing people and this really helped me relax and ease into college life as an international student.
- Take care of yourself.
I cannot stress this enough. Don’t lock yourself in your room and isolate yourself from all the fun you could be having. Make sure you exercise. Go for walks around campus, or hikes near-by to familiarise yourself with your new surroundings. Don’t listen to Sad Love Songs on Spotify. Try new things – I guarantee you’ll find something new that you won’t be absolutely love! (I now eat Sriracha with almost every meal.) You need to find something that motivates you, whether it be school work, exercise, new friends, exploring, meditation. Sometimes you need a bit of downtime and thats okay. But just make sure you don’t get into your own head too much!
Just remember to enjoy as much of your time abroad as you can. I can honestly say this has been the best experience of my life to date. The downs have been well worth it for the incredible highs I have experienced abroad. I have faced mental blocks and challenges, and I’m sure there are more obstacles to come. But in the end I have grown. That’s just part of the journey I guess.