In the first few weeks that I have spent studying abroad, I have read what feels like every blog post and article available on the internet about this topic. In a desperate attempt to find a quick fix for the wide range of emotions that hit me so unexpectedly, I found myself Googling daily “How to get rid of homesickness”, and I found comfort knowing that I was not the first person to be feeling this way. I hope that this blog post offers some advice to any students considering studying abroad, and brings comfort to anyone who is currently studying abroad and struggling with homesickness.
First and foremost, know that the emotional rollercoaster of culture shock/adjusting to studying abroad is so real. I remember seeing this graph briefly in a pre-departure orientation, and not thinking twice about it. I didn’t think it was possible for me to feel anything less than pure euphoria while living my dream studying abroad in Italy. Once the initial feelings of anxiety, sadness, loneliness, and fear of the unknown set in, I found comfort imagining myself as a coordinate moving a little bit further down the x-axis each day.
Looking back, I wish I would have considered the possibility of missing home before my departure-which may have helped with the shock of feeling homesick for the first time in my life.
Over the past few weeks, I have developed my own list of things that have helped me overcome feelings of homesickness, and have decided that I need to share my tips and tricks with anyone else struggling
1. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotion you are feeling- guilt free. . Half of my struggle was feeling guilty that I was not loving every second of my time in Florence. Once I realized it was okay to give myself some grace, I felt so much relief. Let yourself feel what your emotions, but try not to sulk or dwell on negative thoughts. Maybe give yourself an hour or an afternoon to be still and express your emotions, but do not waste days or weeks pitying yourself.
2. Do something kind for yourself. Whether it’s treating yourself to a great cappuccino on the way to class or buying a fun piece of clothing, allow yourself to enjoy the small things!
3. Do something to make you feel good about yourself. This could be developing healthy habits like going to the gym or cooking a nutritious dinner, or could be something as small as putting on an outfit you feel great in. I specifically remember having a rather rough morning, and feeling so much better about myself after deciding to put on my favorite outfit, and putting a bit more effort into “getting ready” that day.
4. Do something for yourself, by yourself. Get comfortable being your own cheerleader/best friend! My schedule did not always line up with my roommates, and people did not always want to do the same activities. I realized early on that I needed to be comfortable venturing out on my own. I enjoyed my aimless walks around the city by myself, and discovered something new every single time. I often reminded myself that I would rather eat a meal alone at one of my bucket list restaurants than go home at the end of the summer regretting not going there.
5. Listen to familiar music/podcasts/TV shows. The rush of the first few weeks made me forget to take time to listen to my favorite playlists and podcasts. The first morning I played music while getting ready, I felt so much more “normal” and like myself. The memories associated with nostalgic songs and a hearing a familiar podcasters voice was so refreshing when I was in need of some normalcy.
6. Express how you are feeling. I was truly convinced I was the only person in my study abroad program who was struggling to adjust to my new life abroad. One day, I finally decided to open up to my roommates about how I was feeling. To my surprise, most of them immediately joined in and added how incredibly homesick they were too. I immediately felt so much better knowing that I was not alone, and I had someone in this new country to talk to. I also found that journaling each day gave me another outlet for my emotions, and has been a great way to log all of the memories-the good and the bad.
Although I can’t give an exact answer as to when the homesickness will pass, I do know that each day gets easier. I was so worried that I was going to hate every day for the rest of my study abroad experience, but was pleasantly surprised when the negative emotions started to subside. My advice to fellow students pursing a study abroad experience is to consider the fact that not every day will be rainbows and sunshine-and that is okay! Eventually you will become comfortable, and everyday will seem more manageable.