Fight it off before it starts

By Fahima Haque
Published July 25, 2011

Home sickness abroad is somewhat ironic. You spend so much time planning for your study abroad trip and you find yourself barely able to sleep the nights leading up to your departure because you’re just so darn excited. When you least expect it—bam! You’ve been hit by the homesickness bug.

Never Say Never

Most students never anticipate ever feeling the slightest pang of homesickness because they’re always so excited to finally embark on their study abroad adventure. In fact, some students don’t even think they’ll have time to think of home when they’re so busy with classes, traveling to neighboring cities and meeting new friends.

With that being said, chances are, you’ll find yourself missing the most mundane things that everyone takes for granted at home like comfort foods or your favorite TV show. At some point during your semester abroad you will likely realize it’s not easy to pack up your things, leave everyone you love and live in a foreign place for four months. It requires a lot of mental preparation, but there are ways of dealing with it.

One quick tip, before you leave pack a stack of photos of friends and family and use them to brighten up your bedroom abroad.


Keeping in touch with friends and family at home is often the key to curbing homesickness. Make an effort to regularly email, gchat, Skype or use Facebook as ways of keeping in touch. Chances are, you and your parents and a few close friends will still talk on the phone fairly often after they know you want to make time to check in and catch up. While using your cell phone can get expensive, don't feel guilty if you need the occasional treat for you and your loved ones to feel more connected.

Pack a stack of photos of people you want to remember and use them to brighten up your bedroom abroad. Old-fashioned snail mail is another great way to keep your mood in high spirits. Plus, sending and receiving postcards make for great keepsakes after your trip ends.  

Sharing is caring

Another great way to deal with homesickness abroad is to talk to those you’re traveling with if you’re having a hard time. Nine times out of ten, the people you are living and traveling with are feeling some variations of what you’re feeling. Plus it’s good to talk it out and know you aren’t the only one missing your friends and family at home. Overall, keeping a positive and realistic attitude about what this time abroad means will get you through any pangs of homesickness you might experience.

Looking for more information? Check out our study abroad student guide to learn more.

Fahima is a copy aide for the Washington Post and has a B.A. in journalism from American University. She studied abroad in London, England during the Spring of 2009.