Monday, October 20, 2014

6 Tips for Battling Homesickness

Homesickness is something you will likely encounter during a study abroad program, regardless of if it's a two week program or a semester long program.  You may only be a little homesick for a short amount of time, or you might feel extremely homesick for a while.  No matter how homesickness hits you, here are some tips in dealing with missing home. This list comes from answers I got from asking my friends who I met abroad and other friends I have who have studied abroad, so they are real solutions people have used!

1) Stay busy

You’re going to be in a brand new place - adventures are everywhere! If you’re feeling homesick, find someone to go on an adventure with, or go somewhere by yourself. This could be as simple as taking a walk around your new area, but be sure you do not allow yourself to sit and think about home all the time. My Aussie housemates were always willing to take me on random adventures, which was super awesome. So, get out there and enjoy your time abroad!

A few of the ones who became my family while I was abroad.
This was in our first two weeks of being abroad, and I had
no idea the impact they would have on me! 

2) Find your family

My group of friends became my family while I was abroad. Having such a tight group was probably what saved the most from being homesick too much. When I did feel homesick, I found it super comforting to hang out with my other study abroad friends who could relate. I was abroad for Thanksgiving, and I think this was the time homesickness affected me the most. I was taking final exams on Thanksgiving Day, while my friends were off of school and with their families. My US friends and I celebrated by cooking a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for us and our Aussie friends. It helped so much to be with them since I couldn’t be with my family. Of course, we had to have an Aussie spin to our Thanksgiving abroad, so we watched cricket while eating. 

3) Social Media

When I first got to Australia, I Skyped people 3 or 4 times a week (probably a little too much). As I got more used to things and found friends abroad, this steadily dropped. During my homesickness phase, Skype helped me a lot to stay in touch with friends back home. I also used Facebook to see what was going on back home and message friends. Social media makes it pretty easy to stay in touch with all your friends, but be careful with this, you don’t want to stay hidden behind a computer screen and miss all the experiences you could be having in your host country! Use Skype and social media when you need it for your homesickness, but be sure it’s not the only way you battle homesickness.

Tennessee Night! Anna and I made food
that represented Tennessee for all our study
abroad and Aussie friends to enjoy!

4) Do something familiar

If you run while you’re at home, go hit the road and go for a run! Maybe you need to watch an episode of your favorite show. Just do something that you would do at home. If your host country has a favorite food from home, go get it. Something our study abroad group did each week was have someone different make dinner each week that represented their home. I remember I was so excited for Tennessee night (I'm originally from Tennessee), and me and my other friend from Tennessee made fried chicken, mashed potatoes, vegetables, and sweet tea for everyone. It was a great way to remember home while also experiencing other tastes from around the world each week, and also a fun way I got to introduce some of my culture to my Australian friends. 

5) Remember you won’t be abroad forever

You don’t have very long to make the most of your experience abroad. If you choose to sit around and be miserable the whole time, you will not enjoy your experience and will be wasting your time. Get out and remember that home will be there whenever you get back and that you only have a short amount of time in your host country!

My Australian housemates, who became part of my family
away from home and who were always willing to
take me on adventures!

6)  Have movie and tea nights

This was my own personal favorite way of dealing with homesickness. There was a group of us who would have movie and tea nights ALL THE TIME. If we were feeling homesick, it was nice to be able to talk about those feelings with others, and this group was always there for that. My housemates also had movie nights occasionally, and it was always fun to chill with them. Even though they were not studying abroad, I know they played a huge factor in helping me deal with my homesickness.

Whatever you do, do not give in to homesickness and let it consume you. It’s ok to talk about your feelings, but make sure your homesickness is not the only thing you talk about! Use your support system of new friends to help you through the tough times!

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