Studying abroad will, without a doubt, be one of the highlights of your college experience. While a summer, semester or even year of seeing the world is incredibly breath-taking, spending so long away from home can really leave you feeling homesick. With my mid-semester break having just finished, it has come to that point in the semester where I’m missing my family and friends back home. Homesickness is a common result of spending time away from the people and places you’re used to, but with the right strategies, it won’t be long before you’re back on the wanderlust trail.
Use technology like it’s the first time you’ve seen it
We live in a world controlled by technology and, while it usually dictates our lives, we can also use it to our advantage. If you’re ever feeling homesick, all you have to do is grab your laptop or phone, find a decent enough Wi-Fi connection and FaceTime or Skype your loved ones. It really doesn’t get much easier than that! I FaceTime my family every few days and when I’m not talking through a camera, then I’m messaging them through apps, such as WhatsApp and Viber. Without ever needing to worry about hefty international calling fees, there’s really no reason not to jump online and bring your home to you. With that being said, however, make sure you’re still enjoying your time abroad. Don’t spend every waking minute calling your mom if it means that you’re missing out on opportunities where you are. The key is to find a balance.
Put the “social” in social media
Similar to directly communicating with technology, social media is a beyond excellent way of keeping in contact with those overseas. With Facebook Messenger, Snapchat stories and Instagram photos, a day will never go by that you aren’t able to view (in some way or another) the events in a friend’s day. Don’t forget to post about your amazing travels though! This will keep your friends (or tech savvy grandma) feeling connected to you as well.
Do things that make you feel like you’re back home
Sometimes talking to friends online or chatting with family on a three-way Skype call can leave you feeling more homesick than you were before. Now that you’ve contacted them, it can often leave you wanting more. It’s during these moments as well that you realize you’re unable to go home for spring break or transport yourself into your bestie’s Instagram picture. One strategy to overcome this is to do things that you would usually do at home. Go to a restaurant serving your family’s favorite cuisine, or have a beach day like you would with your friends. It doesn’t have to be extravagant as long as it’s meaningful to you. Couple this with a quick Facetime call and it’ll be like you never left!
There are friends to be made everywhere
Everyone knows that friends are the family you get to pick and, wherever there are people, there are the opportunities to make new friends. Get out there and meet new people! Not only will you find friends who you can spend the rest of your time abroad with, but you’re also building relationships with people all over the world. The biggest reason for homesickness is the lack of loved ones around you, but having fun with new friends will definitely make you forget about missing home for a while.
Remember where you are!
Homesickness usually sets in a few weeks after you arrive, once all the initial excitement has begun to wear off. As soon as we become too comfortable with where we are and what we’re doing, we’re no longer as enthusiastic or grateful for the circumstances we’re in, no matter how incredible they may be. When this happens abroad, FOMO will naturally take over and it will become all too easy for you to miss the time you’d be spending with loved ones back home. But just remember exactly where you are and how lucky you are to be there. Recall how excited you were before you left, all the things you wanted to do, places you wanted to see and food you wanted to try. You most definitely won’t have exhausted that list yet, so round up those new friends and make some memories.
Of course you miss being home. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t! But remember that the time will pass by. It’s just a matter of how you make use of the relatively short period you have abroad. When you step on to the plane to fly back home, leave with memorable experiences, not regrets. Once you’re home, you most likely won’t be returning for a while, so enjoy every minute of it while you still can!
Contact Jenisha Sabaratnam at [email protected].