No matter how much of a seasoned traveller you may be, at some point everyone feels homesick. It can be nothing or paralyzing. I’ve lived abroad more than once, and studied abroad three times already. So, here’s my four top tips for handling homesickness for before and when it hits!
1) Turn your room into a sanctuary
This can be the difference between having a great experience and reeling from homesickness. Prepare to spend some money decorating your dorm room (and for shipping items home at the end). You’re here to live and study; white walls and emptiness will only make you feel like you’ve put your life on hold and, trust me, it’s quite depressing. The first time I studied abroad I didn’t make much of a change to my dorm room. But this time, I’ve put the energy and money into my room and it’s amazing. And if you plan for it, the extra cost won’t send you on a guilt trip. Take a look!
2) Choose a phone plan that allows you to stay connected
Again, be prepared to spend a little more money if you need to. There’s nothing worse than disconnection to make you feel even more homesick. The first time I studied abroad, I didn’t have ANY connection the first night, and spent it in a near panic attack. I’ll admit: times have changed. But I’ve made sure I can call home anytime, anywhere. More contact=less homesickness!
3) Make friends!
If there’s one way to prevent feeling homesick, it’s by knowing that you’re not alone. In my flat we have three Brits, a German, and two Americans. It’s a perfect mix: my fellow American (see what I did there?) and I can talk about American things, the Brits can really make me feel at home in England. They live semi-nearby (about an hour out) and I know if I ever feel lonely or nostalgic, I can visit their homes. It’s good to know you have that.
4) List your top reasons for studying abroad
It’s a huge step going overseas for more than a vacation. At some point you’ll need to be reminded why you undertook this incredible adventure!
My top three reasons:
My studies: Perhaps grad students are luckier in this sense, but the program we have chosen to study is something we are interested in and passionate about. You genuinely enjoy your work and buckle down into your studies. It is a reminder of why you’re here, and helps to keep the homesickness at bay.
Travel: It’s incredibly rejuvenating to go back to being a tourist for a day. Visit a museum or castle or a new town! My uni offers some great opportunities so make sure you keep an eye out!
English Coast from Scarborough Castle
Living in a different culture: One of the things I love about England is the cafe and pub culture. There’s nothing like being able to study in a cafe that’s literally built into medieval walls! If you’re feeling homesick, remind yourself why you wanted to be here and go do that!
Gatehouse Cafe: York, England. Cafe built into the medieval walls and one of my favorite places to study!
From my experience, homesickness will strike after the initial rush of being in a new place and meeting new people, right before class starts and before you set up your living routine. But all of these can and will help you to fend off missing home and have an amazing overseas experience.
So what are you waiting for? Talk to Across The Pond and get started!