5 things you should do for homesickness while studying or volunteering abroad


By Milla Ling

Living abroad has more ups and downs than the Alps; everyone will have low points and everyone will have highs. The general trend is that you start off feeling excited (nerves notwithstanding) and will miss home once the novelty disappears. But we’re all different, and it may be that you yearn for that comfy bed and those home-cooked meals right from the airport.

Whichever way around you experience it – don’t panic. These feelings don’t mean you’re ‘doing it wrong’; they just mean you’re normal. But even so, don’t give them more power over you than they should have. Homesickness is a cold than can easily tip over into flu and stop you making the most of your experience. So here are a few tips to prevent that from happening:

1. Tell someone how you feel.

Chances are you’re not alone in missing home. A great first step to making yourself better is offloading onto a travel buddy, pinpointing exactly what it is that you feel. Plus, if they’re feeling the same way then bonding over it can actually help make things easier. It creates something good in this ‘new place’ which home doesn’t have.

2. Write a list of things you’ll miss when you go back home.

Try flipping things around. Yes, you yearn for the weather and the spag bol and even (maybe) the annoying brother back at home, but what will you miss about where you are now? Take a moment to think about what is great about your new experience – is it the food, the landscape, a person or people that you’ve met? Then get a pen and write it down. The act of putting it to paper can make you less anxious, and will help you focus on the present, because home will come back to you faster than you think, and then you’ll find yourself missing those things and wishing you’d made the most of them.

3. Remind yourself why you came every morning

What made you click send on that application form? There were reasons behind you wanting to leave home, and no one forced you to go. Try and remember them and wake up each day as if you’ve just made the same choice. Write them on your pillow or stick them to your ceiling. Own your decision and it’ll help you accept the homesickness, while not giving it a bat to beat you with.

4. Try something new

The worst thing to do for homesickness is to wallow in it. There’s a difference between processing your feelings and turning them over and over in your head each night. The best way forward is to admit you feel that way, but then go out and get busy anyway. This is difficult, so don’t worry if you just take small steps – it’s brilliant to get out of the house even if you go to the local shop. Just remember that the more you invest in your new place the more it’ll feel like a home from home.

5. Share your culture with people around you

Yes you’re learning all about a new culture, and that’s a large part of why you went in the first place. But homesickness can be made worse by thinking you are really dissimilar to everyone around you. Respect the culture you are in, but if someone wants to know why you do something your way, or what your country is like then tell them. It’ll bring a little bit of home in, and remind you that differences don’t have to be alienating.

These five things should help ease the ache of homesickness a little. Why not give them a try next time you feel like calling home?

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