Homesickness is a natural consequence of studying abroad. In many cases, it’s not just the creature comforts of your home and family that cause you to long for the life you left behind — it can be the wholesale cultural changes you’re trying to adapt to in a new environment.
But this doesn’t mean you should give in to homesickness. In fact, take the opposite approach: Be proactive and try to help yourself get past this phase. There are steps you can take to alleviate homesickness, whether by connecting with friends and family back home, adopting familiar comforts or finding other ways to improve your sense of security abroad. Regardless of what’s causing you to feel homesick, here are some ways you can find greater peace in your new surroundings.
Keep in touch
You may be moving overseas, but there’s no reason to disconnect yourself from your home entirely. The Internet makes it easier to stay connected with friends and family through social networks, emailing and even video conferencing software can offer easy, round-the-clock connection with your native social environs. It’s easier than ever to live halfway around the world and communicate several times a day, and if you take advantage of these technologies, you should have an easier time managing your homesickness.
Make new friends
Loneliness can be a common feeling, especially early on after moving abroad. If you’ve recently moved through an exchange program, you should have opportunities to connect with locals and even other foreign exchange students. Take advantage of these outlets for meeting new people — connections with other displaced students could provide you with very valuable emotional support, and allow you to offer the same to others.
Find insurance coverage
In many cases, lacking a sense of security in a strange place can be overwhelming. This is a perfectly logical sentiment: Laws are different, cultural differences can be confusing, and, as a foreigner, you’re easily picked out of a crowd. The best way to reassure yourself in the face of these abnormal circumstances is to make sure you’re covered in the event of an emergency.
Travel insurance is often recommended for any individual leaving home for a foreign country, and travel insurance for students is even more essential, guaranteeing adequate medical attention in the event of illness or injury. This may be available through the organization facilitating your overseas studies. Regardless, make sure you have a policy in place to ease some of your fears.
Get out and get active
Exercise is a perfect way to combat depression, and if you’re feeling down, getting moving could be your best medicine. Plus, getting outside puts you in closer contact with the new world surrounding you, making it easier to interact with this new world and, over time, to become a part of it.
Although it can feel endless, homesickness usually subsides over time. Be resilient and remind yourself that while the experience is normal, you can overcome it by pushing onward and embracing your overseas experience. After all, you moved for a reason — to experience a new place. If you spend all your time holed in in your room, you’ll miss out on all this new place has to offer — and you’ll have a much harder time adjusting to your new environment.