Below are a few proactive tips from my experience of studying abroad on how to beat homesickness.
1. Make time to talk to people at home.
It’s completely normal to miss the people you care about at home. Leaving your loved ones can be challenging but talking to people at home can definitely help you deal with this challenge. Whether it is your family or friends, talking to the people you miss can help you to remember that they are still apart of your life and will still be there when you get home. Also, talking about your time abroad to people from home can help you realize how lucky you are to be in a completely new part of the world and what a different and exciting experience you’re having compared to your friends at home.
2. Keep busy
Keeping yourself busy can help you keep homesickness at bay. A great way to do this is by joining a new club (which is really easy to do at university). Not only can this help you to discover a new passion or relight an old one, but it can also help you make a bunch of new friends. You can also keep busy by sightseeing, going to the gym or focusing on school work. I found it helpful to make a plan at the start of each week, to help me use my time productively and make sure that I was making the most of my time abroad. The busier I made myself the more fun experiences I had ended up having and the less time I had to even think about feeling homesick.
3. Give yourself a break
When I first began my study abroad experience, I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to have a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience. I felt guilty if I wasted a day without sightseeing or exploring the new country I was in. But eventually I realized that I had to take a few days here and there to relax. Studying abroad in a foreign country can be an exhausting (although definitely rewarding) experience and it is OK to give yourself a break. This can be going to the gym, reading a book or even taking nap, whatever it is that helps you to recharge and relax.
4. Ask for help
You are not the first study abroad student to be stressed out or confused by things in your new university. Even if you feel alone at times, the problems that you’re facing are probably the same problems that most students studying abroad have faced at some point during their experience. There are people at your university whose specific job is to help people like you and have probably helped other students deal with the same problems in the past. So ask for help! Whether this is asking for help from your university’s international office, your professors or your university’s counselling center, there is always someone willing to help.
5. Make local Friends
If you end up at a university with a lot of other international student from the US it can be very tempting to stick with the familiar. You will be able to relate with each others’ experience in a way that local students probably won’t. But remember that a big part of studying abroad is learning about a new culture, which is done best when taught from a local perspective. So spread your wings, put yourself out there and try to befriend people from the country that you’re studying in. There are also many practical benefits to having local friends, including that they are more likely to have a car, they will have an already established friend group that you can join and they might let you stay with them over the holidays.