So You’re Homesick…now what?
Coping with the Worst Feeling in the World
Being abroad entails the opening of many new doors. New friends, different cities and countless other experiences convene to make for an amazing time away.
Just when you think you’ve got it all down pat, BAM- it hits you like a truck! It is that dreadful feeling in your stomach that seems to creep up on you at the worst possible time. It makes you want to get on the next plane back to the U.S. “It” is what some know all too well as homesickness.
Being homesick is arguably in the top three of the worst emotional states that one must deal with. It is a mixture of dismay, loneliness and an overall feeling of sadness. These feelings are common for people of all ages, particularly while in a foreign country. The good news is that homesickness is almost always temporary, and can in fact fade very quickly.
I’m no psychologist, but being away and seeing how some of my friends have dealt with it gave me a unique perspective on how to cope with this bump in your journey. Here are some tips for getting over homesickness and enjoying your time away:
Talk to your family…but not too much
Having a great support system is crucial during your time of homesickness. It is important to have someone you can vent to about your feelings, and no one is better suited for that than family. It is ok to let them know how you are feeling, but you should not constantly be on the phone with them. Of course they are a comfort, but the fact of the matter is, they are not there with you physically. Take this time to get support from the people you are actually with; chances are they are going through the same thing.
Get into a routine
Do you usually go to the gym after class? Do you read before going to sleep? Incorporate the norms of your home routine into your life abroad. Having a routine, (especially one that is familiar) is helpful to bridging your life at home to your new place of residency. Once you have established some semblance of normalcy during your time away, you will really begin to feel at home, which is a tremendous aid against the emotional affliction that you are battling.
This is arguably the most important piece of advice. Don’t feel like going to the pub with your friends? Go anyway. Don’t want to stop by that farmer’s market? Grab your wallet and lead the way. Unsure about that weekend on the Amalfi Coast? Pack your bathing suit and don’t look back. The worst possible thing to do when feeling homesick is to sit around and think about how terrible you feel. Getting out not only provides for memorable experiences, but also amazing distractions. It is also a great opportunity to meet people in your program and city. You can’t accomplish all of this by sitting in an apartment and feeling sorry for yourself.
Homesickness is something that nearly everyone has or will experience in his or her lifetime. It is important to remember you are not alone. By having a strong support system at home and by talking to others in your host country, it is quite possible to overcome the feeling. Traveling provides us with once in a lifetime opportunities that we may never experience again. While it may be hard to appreciate at the time of your emotional upheaval, there are countless individuals who wish that they were given the same opportunity as you to see the world. So get off your phone, get out of your apartment and go explore. After all, nothing lasts forever.