How To Overcome Homesickness. So. You’re attending university in an…

TLDR 👀

  • Homesickness is commonly experienced by people who spend time abroad.
  • Making new friends and connecting with others can help alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness.
  • Decorating your room with photos and other familiar items can create a safe space you’ll be happy to come home to.
  • Devoting time to self-care will help you keep an eye on your mental health.
  • Immersing yourself in your new country and its culture is a good way to feel more at home and appreciate the exciting journey you’re on.

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What Happens in Our Minds Bodies When We’re Homesick?

Feeling homesick can affect you physically and emotionally. Symptoms mimic other mental health disorders like depression and anxiety, as well as physical conditions. While people may respond to homesickness differently, there are some common reactions.5 If you’re dealing with homesickness, you may experience some or all of the following symptoms.

Common emotional symptoms of homesickness are:1

  • Depressed mood
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Isolation from other people
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low motivation

Common physical symptoms of homesickness are:2

  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Headaches
  • Body aches and pains
  • Increased or decreased appetite
  • Stomach problems
  • Low energy

Each person’s experience of homesickness may be different and can depend upon whether the move or change in environment is temporary or permanent, whether or not they are dealing with other stressors, and their level of social support.

1. Create new routines

One thing that could be contributing to your homesickness is missing old routines.

The best way to get over that craving is to create new routines that you enjoy.

You could visit the same local restaurant for breakfast each week. You could discover fun ways to keep fit, start keeping a diary, establish a new bedtime routine or dedicate a set amount of time daily to studying the local language.

Studying the language is a fantastic activity to incorporate into your daily routine. This hobby will help you interact with locals and understand the culture.

Final Thoughts on Homesickness

Homesickness is a normal reaction to missing people or places that are important to you. It can manifest as sadness, anxiety, or physical health problems. Though homesickness can be difficult, it’s possible to feel better. Make an effort to take care of yourself, stay connected to your past, and take steps to establish new memories and relationships. Talking to a therapist can also help you overcome your homesickness.

2. Keep a positive attitude

This is easier said than done, I know. But if you make the effort, it really is possible to maintain a positive attitude. Your homesickness at university isn’t going to get any better if you keep dwelling on the negatives – so keep reminding yourself of all the good things about being here. You could even write a list of positive things that happen each week: new things you’ve learned, new opportunities you’ve gained, new friends you’ve made. And even when you feel worst, make yourself smile – it really does help. Turn that frown upside down!

Tips for dealing with homesickness abroad

Coping with homesickness abroad is very personal and not all techniques will work for everyone. For some, beating feelings of homesickness can be simple as making a few new friends, while others may need a more intensive approach. Below, we detail a number of ways you can reduce loneliness overseas. Try one or more of these ideas if you find yourself feeling blue and missing home during your time abroad.

4. Stay in touch with friends and family

Speaking to someone you feel close to can be an instant pick-me-up, so make sure you stay in touch with friends and family back home. Pick up the phone, use Skype or instant messaging, or even send letters and postcards. Don’t keep your homesickness at university a secret; sharing any problems will help you to start feeling better. But at the same time, don’t turn the conversation into an excuse to moan for an hour – remember to focus on the positives too!

7. Do volunteer work

When we’re homesick, we can easily become wrapped up in ourselves and how down we’re feeling. A good way to overcome this struggle is to focus on someone or something else instead. That’s where volunteering comes in.

Do you love animals as much as I do? Why not volunteer at the local shelter or with an animal rescue group that protects wildlife?

Do you have valuable skills that could be shared with local teenagers from low-income families? You could volunteer in community outreach or as a teacher.

Or if you’re passionate about the environment, you could join a beach clean-up group on weekends.

Volunteering is a great way to integrate with the local community, meet people and feel good about yourself. The feeling that you’re making a positive impact in the world is sweet, and you may be even inspire others to contribute, too.

In my experience, giving your time to others is one of the most effective ways to keep homesickness at bay.

Your time studying abroad should be a fun and rich experience. Sure enough, there will be days when you’ll miss the sights, comforts and relationships from home so much that it hurts.

But that feeling shouldn’t stop you from making the most of your new city.

I hope these tips for how to get over homesickness can help fend off loneliness as you study abroad.

Have fun, wherever you are!

 

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Antonio Pasolini is an EFL teacher and translator based in Brazil. He lived in Europe for 13 years, where he developed a taste for traveling he just can’t shake off… and doesn’t want to!

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