How to Deal With Homesickness

Homesickness is, in my opinion, something everyone deals with whether they admit it or not. This is both good and bad. This means you’re probably going to have to deal with it too. But it also means that if every other person who has studied abroad can handle it, so can you.

I know I had a few rough spots when I was abroad, especially right when I got back for the second semester. It wasn't necessarily that I was homesick. There was just a day here and there when I was wondering what I was doing in the middle of Scotland while the rest of my life was back in the U.S. If you do ever feel homesick, or are wondering what you're doing in the middle of another country, take comfort in the fact that what you are feeling is normal - and it won’t last. When I was going through my rough patches, I talked to a friend back home that had been abroad in Scotland before. When he told me he felt the same way when he was there, it instantly made me feel a lot better.

Here are a few remedies to prevent homesickness:

  • Always stay busy. This one should be easy. Don’t spend hours sitting in front of your laptop looking at Facebook photos of your friends back in the States. Staying in contact with them is one thing. Constantly wishing you were back with them is another. There is always something that needs to be done - a task, an errand, a project that needs attention, etc.
  • Keep in mind, what you remember about back home is probably more of a utopian image than anything. Yeah, your friends are probably having a good time at school without you, but don’t forget, they’re probably doing just as much work as you and they don’t get to travel to foreign countries on the weekends.
  • Keep going to club meetings, playing sports, window shopping, and even going out to eat for that matter. Getting out and staying social is the best way I know to avoid homesickness. The more social the activity, the better.
  • Always look forward to what’s ahead. That’s what really kept me going. Knowing that I was going to be in Amsterdam one weekend and Paris the next, got me through a lot. Sure, you have a ten page paper due, you can’t go out this weekend, and your best friends haven’t talked to you in two days. But guess what? In a few days, that paper will be over, you’ll call your friends and family tomorrow, and next weekend you’ll be cruising down the Seine gazing at the Eiffel Tower.
  • Don’t save work until the last minute. This is a tough one because let’s be honest, everyone procrastinates at one point or another when it comes to homework. But at times when you really feel stressed out, work may have to come first. Organizing your time and focusing on getting your work done for a few days will probably relieve a lot of that stress. And of course, the less stress in your life the more apt you are to enjoy it, and the less prominent homesickness becomes.
  • The worst thing you can do is be upset day after day. Not only are you ruining your own time, you’ll be ruining everyone else’s around you. That doesn’t mean you can’t talk about your feelings and emotions every once and a while. Share your feelings with fellow students, and don’t let issues, worries, or concerns mount up. Talk to your faculty advisor, study abroad coordinator or host family. That’s what they’re there for! Like I said, it happens to everyone.

Don’t let homesickness ruin your life. Remember that you are only abroad for a summer, semester or year. It will be one of the quickest times of your life, and arguably, the most fun. Don’t leave with regrets because you were too busy sulking in your room to take advantage of every new opportunity out there. Remember, homesickness is a fleeting emotion while your study abroad experiences and memories will last a lifetime. Make the most of it!

Check out my post “Culture Shock, Homesickness, And The “Aha Moment”, for more in depth solutions to dealing with both culture shock and homesickness, as well as how I was able to overcome both while I was abroad.