Homesickness – Written by Noelle Cho
Noelle studied abroad in the spring 2017 with our partner TEAN at Griffith University in Australia. She is currently working this fall in our UK Education Abroad Advising Center as an peer ambassador.
Photo Credit: Mason Johnson – Winter 2016
Although I have always considered myself an independent person, I was surprised by the major homesickness I felt while abroad in Australia. I first decided to study abroad without much consulting from my parents – it was my decision to make. Since I already handle all of the necessary college documents and finances by myself, I also took care of the education abroad applications, paperwork, and flight bookings on my own. Throughout preparations for studying abroad, I felt confident that I would be perfectly fine while abroad. I expected to miss my family a little bit, but thought I would be preoccupied with the adventure of exploring a foreign country. However, homesickness is a major topic of discussion during the UK EA Pre-Departure Orientation for a reason – it’s real, it’s serious, and it happens to everyone. The degree will vary but homesickness is an inevitable aspect of traveling abroad, no matter how fun or exciting the experience is overall. Although it’s difficult to prepare yourself for the reality of living in a foreign country for an extended time, keep in mind the following tips to deal with homesickness.
- This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. One crucial thing to remember is that this time in your life that you can travel abroad is a rare opportunity. You will never be in the same place, at the same time, as. Obviously, you can return to visit or even live in the country in the future, but you will be a different person, at a different age and a different point in your life. When homesickness creeps up on you, remind yourself to enjoy every moment because your stay is temporary. Your departure date will come sooner than you think, so focus on living in the present where you are.
- Make yourself busy. In line with the focus of enjoying where you currently are, find something that will take up your time and keep your mind off of how homesick you feel. Go to your classes with the intention of learning, engage with other people at school and community social events, take day trips and explore the area around you, release your stress by going to the gym, visit local museums and shops, learn how to cook the local cuisine. Set a new goal to meet and connect with as many people as possible, and thoughts of homesickness will drift away.
- Talk to people. Let people know how you are feeling. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s natural to experience up-and-down, conflicting emotions. Don’t feel like you need to “just deal with it” and keep your emotions to yourself. Letting it out with others will definitely help you feel better. It may be difficult to open up to people but you are capable of doing it. There are typically free counseling centers on college campuses, or you can talk to roommates, friends, whoever you feel comfortable talking to. Be honest and open about whether you are homesick, lonely, stressed. Being homesick does not mean you’re unappreciative of the opportunities you have abroad. It’s part of the experience.