The general perception when deciding to study abroad is usually that you are going on a great adventure, meeting new people every day, and having fun all the time. Oh, and somewhere along the line you’ll find time to study as well.  

The other side of the coin, that you often don’t hear about, is that you sometimes find yourself in the middle of nowhere feeling alone and homesick. You now have your own challenges to face and new emotions to deal with while trying to get through the semester. These are some of the stops on the emotional roller coaster of studying abroad:

Loneliness

Amongst all the adventures and new experiences, every now and again you will find yourself wishing your best friend, brother, or sister could have shared those moments with you. Sharing photos over WhatsApp or a video over Snapchat helps, but it just isn’t as good as having them there. Or you might just be having a bad day and be in need of a hug from a close friend or family.  

It is normal to feel lonely from time to time. While studying abroad, you are far away from your support structure at home. Start making new friends at the university, and build a new support structure for yourself. The easiest way to meet new people is by getting involved with the numerous activities offered by the university and community.  

Also, set up frequent Skype calls with your family and friends to help make the distance a little easier.  

Fear of Missing Out

With all the technology available nowadays, it is very easy to stay in touch with your loved ones back home. Simultaneously, it is just as easy to realise how many things you are missing out on. And, this fear of being left out only worsens your loneliness.

While abroad, you might feel like people close to you aren’t sharing events in their daily lives with you as frequently as they used to. This is usually not intentional, as they are continuing with their normal routines and do not realise that these small stories become little treasures for you.  

Don’t forget that your life isn’t on stand by. Start building a new friendship circle and making new memories of your own. Also, let your loved ones know that you appreciate hearing about their daily lives, no matter how mundane it might seem to them.  

Fear of Failure

You have made it all the way to a new country and a great university. Your friends and family are expecting you to have fun at university whilst still getting good grades, and then come home to find the perfect, high-paying job. With so much pressure on you, you might find yourself wondering, “What if I fail?” or “What if I do not live up to their expectations?”  

As soon as you become aware of these thoughts, take a step back and remind yourself that you didn’t get a free ride to university. You had to meet specific criteria to be accepted. You worked hard for your spot, and you deserve to be there.  

Start shifting your mind to positive thoughts. Focus on things you have already accomplished. Try your hardest not to dwell on the negative.  

Lastly, remember that you do not have to please everyone and meet everyone’s expectations. You are, first and foremost, there to study. Work towards achieving your goals. Learn to prioritise your work, and take a break whenever you need to.

Guilt

The thrill of a new country might be so captivating that you don’t actually miss home. It is possible that you might feel guilty about this. As mentioned above, your new experiences are making you grow as an individual, and so it’s important to make the most of it.  

I have often spoken to people who feel guilty because things are not going well at home, whether it is financially, health-wise, responsibilities at home that their families need to deal with, or due to an unstable political situation. All the while they are living in a safe country, relatively stress-free and some would say, thriving.

Everyone is going to experience studying abroad in their own unique way and will go through their own set of emotions. Whether you are missing your loved ones or having the time of your life, remember, it is normal to feel guilty at times. The key to coping with guilt is to avoid the traps of over thinking matters, and self-punishment.

Before you reconsider studying abroad, bear in mind that the experience won’t just be filled with challenges. In fact, there will be plenty of fun, and you will undoubtedly experience some unforgettable moments! In the end, studying abroad will be what you make of it. One day you will look back on this journey with fond memories and find that it has made you more resilient, and taught you many important lessons.

Check out our other blogs The 5 Stages of Studying Abroad, and Best Ways to Make Friends When Studying Abroad!

About the Author: Lizan Gray, an adventurer at heart, is originally from South Africa and currently a copywriter in Dubai. She is busy finishing her degree in Business Administration.