Spending a semester or a year studying abroad is likely to be the most exciting experience you are likely to have. You will spend an extended period immersed in an unfamiliar environment and culture, doing things that you will unlikely be able to do in your hometown. You will make new friends and compile stories that you will be able to tell your great-grandchildren. You will return home, as they used to say, broadened.
However, and especially once the excitement of being in a foreign country starts to wear off, you may find yourself missing the familiar sights, sounds, and smells of home. You might miss your favorite TV show or a particular comfort food that is not readily available. You might miss your friends and family. You might just miss hearing your birth language commonly spoken while walking on the street.
So how do you deal with it?
Keep In Touch, But Don’t Overdo It
Back before the Internet, the opportunities for keeping in touch with home were rather limited. You would be confined to letters written on paper and the occasional brief, long distant phone call. The Internet and social media have changed all that, shrinking distances in ways that were not imagined outside the pages of science fiction. Home, in the age of the Internet, is just a Skype chat away.
By all means, keep in touch with friends and family back home. But don’t overdo it. The purpose of studying abroad is to immerse yourself in a new place and not be forever tugged back to where you came from.
If you find yourself on Skype for hours every night, you are certainly overdoing it. Limit your Skype chat to once a week. Use Facebook, by all means, but use it to impart to folks back home all of the exciting things you are doing and seeing. Upload pictures and video of that new café you discovered and of the new friends you have made.
The best way to stave off homesickness is to keep so busy that you don’t have time to feel homesick. There is no more miserable way to spend time that to brood in your room after classes. Get outside. Do things.
What those things might be depend on what you like to do. Some people will explore museums and historical sights in the city where they happen to be studying. Especially if you are studying in Europe, a lot of destinations are just a short road trip away. Take a lot of day and weekend trips.
Other people will go clubbing, attend concerts and the cinema. Try some interesting cafes and restaurants of the kind that you won’t be able to find at home. Ask the friends you make in the city where you’re studying where they like to go to and then go with them.
Make Friends From Your Home Country
Most programs for study abroad involve groups of students from the same country. By all means, make friends in your group. In that way you’ll have someone from home to talk to during those times you are feeling nostalgic. Of course, they will have you to talk to as well.
Celebrate Holidays From Your Home Country
One good way to stave off homesickness is to celebrate holidays native to your home country. For Americans studying abroad, the best examples are Thanksgiving and Independence Day. Invite some of the friends you’ve made for a Thanksgiving feast or a 4th of July picnic. While you have absorbed the culture of the country where you are studying, you will have a chance to give back a little of the culture of your home country to your new friends.
The main idea is to take advantage of the opportunity that studying abroad has given you. Every moment feeling homesick is a moment that is taken away from that experience. We hope these tips will help ease those feelings so you can enjoy this experience as the gift it is!
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