Missing Home, Loving Home: Learning To Cope With Homesickness
There is nothing more exciting than packing your bags and writing a new chapter in your story. There is also nothing scarier than trying to be objective while dealing with homesickness in college or university.
We’re always so excited for the next step in our lives, especially when we’ve been given the perfect opportunity to study abroad. How can there be anything wrong with the chance to get to know new people and learn new things? Everything is great until you realize you miss home.
The hardest part of being “homesick” is the thought that you are alone, but the truth is, everyone who leaves home eventually feels that emptiness as well. That begs the question, what is that emptiness?
It’s simple – it is emotional distress or anxiety from being pushed out of a comfort zone and being away from familiar faces. It’s one of the many "study abroad" challenges that you’ll have to learn to cope with because it’s part of the brilliant journey you’re taking part of!
It’s unavoidable, yes. But knowing how to deal with homesickness before it creeps up will help you handle it when you’re abroad.
Meet New People
Being “back home” means you have the chance to pick up the phone and make plans to meet with your friends.
This is probably the hardest part of being homesick, just missing your friends. But they’re not the only people in the world – there are plenty more to get to know. Put yourself out there and get to know new people, it’s frightening but exhilarating at the same time. You know what your friends are going to say to you when you ask them about their day, which is pleasant. But you haven’t got a clue what stories these new people have to tell about their day, which is refreshing!
Explore Your Surroundings
You’re in a new place that you’ve never been before, so there’s plenty of places to see and plenty of activities to experience.
You might be a little wary about heading into the unknown without friendly faces around, which is why colleges, like Keuka College, organize all sorts of events – from game nights to adventure trips – for their students. Exploring is a great way to get outside and into the fresh air, which is a good setting to help you focus on all the positives for a question you might ask yourself: “Is studying abroad right for me?”
Be More Active
Sometimes you just need a pick-me-up, and there is no better pick-me-up than an endorphin boost.
It’s not just the blood and the hormones that are rushing through your body that make you feel better and happier, it’s the feeling of having accomplished something. You can benefit from checking out your university’s fitness facilities, which are often open to all students. The Concordia University Nebraska takes it a step further by not only offering a weight room, but also providing training and nutrition programs.
Squash The Procrastination Bug
It just cannot be helped...at some point, we have all insisted on putting things off to the last minute. Ultimately, stressing ourselves out and ending up feeling alone, overwhelmed and uncomfortable.
Feeling alone is only going to amplify the emotional distress you’re going through. The longer you hold off on doing your homework, the more work you’ll have to get done before the deadline, and the more that time difference between you and your family becomes apparent. This is why task prioritization and time management are essential components to keeping homesickness at bay. By getting things done today, you have more time to spend tomorrow on Skype with your family or more for yourself – giving you the perfect balance!
We all have those days where we don’t really want to put too much of an effort into mingling with others and you just want to talk to someone that you know will click with you.
Even being back home you would typically get this feeling. It’s normal to want to spend time with that one person who understands you and has the same interests as you do. What’s great about schools, colleges and universities, like San Jose State University, is that you can be connected to people with similar interests or people from the same country through the student clubs that are set up.
Share Your Thoughts
The worst thing you could possibly do when living away from home is to trick yourself into bottling up your feelings.
You might think that keeping how you feel to yourself is sparing everyone else around you from what may seem like drama, but you’re not. When you’re upset and sad day after day, you turn into poor company, even if you don’t mean to be. So, be honest and open up to someone you’re comfortable talking to. You might not even need to speak at all, you might feel better writing it down in a private diary. Emotions can sometimes be hard to articulate, so writing it down might help you describe what you feel when you do need to talk about it.
Be Part Of A Community
Sometimes the longer you stay away from home, the more you feel like you need to depend on someone to get you through the days that feel endless.
It’s normal to feel like you want someone else to take over your work and decisions, but the truth is, it’s not what you want at all! What you need is to feel like you’ve taken charge of something and that you’re making a difference. So, why not take part in one of your school’s initiatives, groups or organizations?
Every college or university has a goal that it wants to teach its students, like the University of Saint Joseph with its women’s leadership center that teaches students and staff to work toward equality and diversity.
The Glass Is Half Full
Everyone has good days and bad days. It’s all about taking a step back along with a deep breath to remind yourself just how lucky you are!
Not everyone you know will have the chance to study abroad, live a different life, see things from a different perspective or learn another language. You are one of the lucky few that gets to do all these things! So it can get a little tough, but it will also shape your story and will help you write the next ten chapters!
About the Author: When she's not busy running, training or enjoying a freshly brewed cup of coffee, Amy Saraireh can be found writing to fill a blank page with the things she's learned or experienced.