Coping with FOMO

jillian-3-1When FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) strikes, it’s sudden and tends to stick around.  It can happen when you’re checking in on Facebook and seeing your friends and family back home, or seeing other students from your abroad program going out for the weekend, and sometimes it can be a little hard to cope with. Whether you’re studying abroad for the summer or a semester it can hit, so here’s some advice for snapping yourself out of it:

Reality check:  Sometimes I’d get on Facebook and see some friends from high school who were also studying abroad and think, ‘Wow, look at her, living her life.’ Then it would hit me later that, ‘Wait. I’m in Japan.’ It’s so super easy to fall into a slump, but just think about where you are and what it took to get there. What you’re doing is really awesome, and it’s giving you experiences, knowledge, and courage that you’ll be able to draw from for the rest of your life.

Quit the Comparison Game, and focus on you:  quitting the comparison game is so much easier said than done and can be incredibly tricky, especially with social media to remind you what everyone is up to. Make sure to put the focus on yourself, live in the moment, and remind yourself what you’re doing. Sometimes for me that meant taking a day or two off of social media and hanging out with my amazing friends around the dorm, watching movies, or making plans for the next week. I kept a journal which was great to read through to see all of what I had done, and I know several others put their time and energy into a blog or even a YouTube channel. Those are great ways to continue inspiring yourself to explore and see how much you can accomplish!

Take initiative: Worried about missing out on weekend plans? Make your own! Grab a couple of friends or hit the group chat and see if anyone else is up to explore the city or plan a weekend trip. Feeling like you’re missing out on hang outs it hard to work through, but inviting people out is a great way to get out of the dorm and bond. Plus, they’ll probably invite you the next time they plan a day out!

Get involved: Especially if you’re going to be studying abroad for a semester, seriously consider joining a club at your university. It can sound a little daunting, but joining a club gets you super connected to the other students at your university and is a great way to make friends. When I went to Japan, joining at least one club was highly encouraged, and I’m so incredibly grateful for it. It gave me an opportunity to meet other students, both from Japan and other international students, learn a new sport (Tennis, anyone?), and go on some incredible weekend trips that I never would have gotten the chance to go on had I not stepped out of my comfort zone.

Stay in contact: Your friends are still going to be there when you get back, no worries! Figuring out a Skype schedule and following through is an awesome way to still be involved in your friends and families’ lives, and allows you to stay up-to-date on what’s going on back home. On the flip side, make sure to have that healthy balance and remember to stay in the moment. You’re not going to be abroad forever, so make sure to get out and learn and enjoy the culture around you. Remember why you’re not home; you’re studying abroad! Don’t be so afraid of missing out on your friends’ lives that you fail to live your own. Go out and get those experiences and memories, that way you can tell everyone some awesome stories when you get home!

Jillian is a senior at the University of Kentucky majoring in International Studies, focusing on the culture and arts of Asia. In the fall of 2015 she studied abroad at Akita International University in Akita, Japan.