Ways To Reduce Homesickness Abroad
We’re all more or less grownups when we go away to university, but let’s be honest; being away from home situated in another country or even on another continent is sometimes a tough one. There are moments when even the most independent person in this world misses their home country and their loved ones.
For me personally, goodbyes are horrible and they don’t get much easier over time. But there are definitely some strategies you can and should use to reduce that homesickness and to fully enjoy your time abroad.
1. Maintain contact.
In the age of social media this seems very easy, but in reality it often is not. Life goes on. That means some people have other obligations like work, university or social commitments. Additionally, for some people there are time differences they have to overcome when trying to communicate with home.
To avoid the feeling that you’ll disappear from each other’s agenda or from each other’s lives, it is important to manage the communication. Set fixed dates to call or Skype on a regular basis, compare schedules and plan those “call or Skype dates” in advance so that you also have something to look forward to.
In addition, you should also try to be flexible and spontaneous. When someone writes you: “I have time right now, are you free?” even if you’re not exactly free, consider taking those 5 to 10 minutes out of your day to speak to them. You will feel much better afterwards and avoid homesickness in the long run.
2. Get out there!
Although it is important to make space in your schedule to communicate with home, you have to find a good balance. The worst thing you can do is sit all day at home only waiting for someone’s Skype status to switch to green. If you do that, you’ll soon get bored and that is the moment when you are the most vulnerable for feeling lonely and homesick.
Keep yourself entertained, engaged, and active by searching for something in which you can be passionate. That can be through any number of things: sports, music, photography, writing, participating in events at your campus, getting involved with student associations, social engagement in your city or region, language lessons, or even a part-time job.
There are so many possibilities and I guarantee that there is something out there for everyone’s taste!
3. Be social to build your own little abroad family!
One thing that definitely helps is the knowledge that you’re not alone. In fact, there are a lot of people who are in the same boat as you. All the other international students at your university are probably around your age, studying similar subjects as you, and may even have similar interests.
So be social, participate in events, make friends, spend quality time together and support each other. Those people are the ones who understand you the most, for the very reason that they find themselves in the exact same situation as you.
From my own experiences, a support system is essential and it will help you to get through pretty much anything. In my case, my friends and I went out together, had dinners, laughed, talked, ranted to each other, all together. In short, we became a second family. This made it much easier to be apart from all the people at home.
4. When you can’t be at home, take home to you!
There is more than one way to achieve this. First the real obvious one: take it literally, and invite your friends and family to visit you. This way you can get your “two worlds” to meet, something about which I’m sure everyone will be excited! So why not shift the annual family or friendship group vacation to your country of stay?
The second possibility is to celebrate national holidays, as well as birthdays with your friends from abroad, plus at the same time to introduce them to your traditions! It was awesome to celebrate, for example, thanksgiving all together, or to have a real German barbecue, or to bake and taste typical national Christmas cookies. The list of what you can do is long and it is also an excellent way to get to know more about foreign traditions and habits.
5. Remind yourself how lucky and privileged you are to have this opportunity!
When the going gets tough, take a second, stop and look where you are. Remind yourself of all the positive sides and advantages!
Not everyone gets the chance to experience what you are experiencing right now. Not only do you get to learn another language, you actually get to live and study in another country. The best way to show your appreciation is to use this opportunity and transform it into something valuable!