Let’s not beat around the bush – sooner or later homesickness may affect everyone while abroad. Students may sometimes wish they were back home, wish they could eat at their favorite restaurant or wish they could go out with their friends and family. Homesickness is usually caused by unfamiliarity with new surroundings. Everything is so new and different in your study abroad location, and sometimes you just don’t know what to do with yourself or where you fit in. Although homesickness can happen, it can be limited by some careful measures. Here are five ways to help reduce the feelings of homesickness while abroad.
1. Live With a Host Family
Many students choose to live with a host family to have a more immersive experience, especially if they are in a non-English speaking country. Students who participate in homestays often develop deep and lasting bonds with their families which allow them to acclimate to the new culture. Host families often take their students on weekend activities and introduce them to other locals, which can help them feel less isolated and more connected to their new home away from home.
2. Avoid Social Media!
If you only remember one piece of advice, remember this: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. are out to get you! Okay, okay, maybe not. Spending too much time on social media can make you feel like you are missing out and forget that you are on perhaps the most unique experience you will ever have. Of course we want you to keep in touch with friends and family, but set limits. Remember, soon they will be looking at YOUR photos and wishing they were experiencing what you are!
3. Get Involved With Local Students
On many USAC programs, students have the opportunity to connect with a Buddy or Language Partner, a local student who can help you learn more about your new university, city, culture, and language. In many instances they will want to show you around and help you adjust to life in their home country. Buddies and language partners are a good way to make local friends, exchange cultures and help you make great connections and bonds.
4. Stay Busy
Let’s say you decided to go to a study abroad program. You stopped in 3 different airports, you have no idea what time it is AND you have no idea what people are saying. Anything “routine” or “normal” seems to have stayed back in your home country. Don’t be discouraged! You will quickly adjust to life abroad and soon you will be a normal student with classes, homework, extra-curricular activities, a social life and many other things to keep you occupied, busy, and most of all, sane.
5. Keep Perspective
We are sorry to say, but your time studying abroad with USAC is limited. You might miss home at times and might even question what you’re doing abroad, but something to remember is time. You will only be abroad for a certain period of time that will most likely fly by. Remember how amazing this opportunity is! You are in a different country and are on a unique journey that people would do anything to experience. So, close your laptop, sign out of Netflix and go out and enjoy your time there—you won’t regret it.
Anyone will tell you that studying abroad is worth it, despite the possibility of experiencing homesickness at some point during your time abroad.