5 Ways to Overcome Homesickness While Studying Abroad

Studying abroad can be an exhilarating adventure, but it’s not uncommon to experience homesickness along the way. The good news is that there are several strategies you can employ to navigate through this challenging period. In this article, we will explore five effective ways to overcome homesickness and make the most of your study abroad experience.

When you conquer homesickness, you can be fully focused on appreciating your university experiences, grasping opportunities for development and growth, and creating new memories. Remember that wherever you happen to call home at any point of your life, it will always be there for you.

1. Socialize and build friendships

Spend time nurturing new and existing friendships at university. Surrounding yourself with a support system of students from different backgrounds and nationalities, as you may find it can give you a sense of belonging.

Most universities offer a plethora of social activities to help you meet new people. Keeping busy by doing activities that you enjoy are a great way to distract you from your restless feelings. For example, you can join extracurricular student clubs, attend social events, or participate in your university sports teams.

Hanging around other people can not only cheer you up, but also distract you from your negative emotions, especially when you keep yourself busy. You might even find like-minded international students who can relate to your feelings, and who may be able to offer some advice or solace to get you through this time.

Having a supportive network of friends by your side can brighten the darkest moments and ease the pangs of homesickness. Photo: Graduates of University of California, Davis

2. Explore your new surroundings

Instead of dwelling on the past and home, immerse yourself in your new surroundings and learn about the different cultures and customs around you. Getting familiar with your new location can create a sense of belonging and diminish your feelings of homesickness. Remember that there are many new memories to be made, so make room for them.

Additionally, as our world becomes increasingly internationalized, you may find similarities and common ground between your home country and host country. Finding shared values and practices, even foods, can create a sense of familiarity that makes you feel more at home.

Diving headfirst into the wonders of a new environment and culture can wash away homesickness, as the experiences become the foundation for a sense of belonging and a new place to call home.

3. Keep yourself busy

Engaging in meaningful activities is a brilliant way to distract yourself when you start to feel homesick. Instead of dwelling on home, immerse yourself in tasks, hobbies, or social interactions that you enjoy. A busy schedule can also provide you with a sense of purpose and accomplishment, thus making you feel more connected and grounded to your current environment.

Keep yourself busy with activities that push you out of your comfort zone so that you can foster personal growth and self-discovery. By working on your self-development, you’ll find that you can adapt to new situations with more confidence and ease, and thus cope better when you feel homesick.

Don’t forget to manage your time well by planning your days and organizing your tasks. Structure and routine can be comforting when adjusting to a new environment. You may feel more at home where you are currently when you have a sense of control and familiarity in your day-to-day life.

4. Look after yourself

While keeping yourself busy is beneficial, it is essential to find the balance of self-care, rest, and downtime. Let’s look at the several aspects you can focus on when it comes to taking care of yourself.

Firstly, monitor and nourish your emotional well-being. Homesickness often arises from feeling disconnected in unfamiliar surroundings. Improve your emotional health by doing activities that bring you joy, exercising, and maintaining human connection, whether face-to-face or through the phone. Make sure your inner voice is not self-critical or harsh; it is important to be compassionate with yourself especially when you are feeling low.

Practice mindfulness and gratitude regularly. Mindfulness involves being present in the moment and non-judgmentally observing your thoughts and feelings. Engaging in mindfulness exercises or meditation can help reduce anxiety and enhance your overall well-being. Additionally, cultivating gratitude by focusing on the positive aspects of your study abroad experience can help counterbalance feelings of homesickness.

Stay active and energized! Exercising not only benefits your physical health, but also your mental health, making it a great tool to get past low emotions and increase your optimism.

Through the practice of meditation, such as with the Mindful University Project at the University of Rochester, students can navigate homesickness by cultivating inner peace, fostering self-awareness, and embracing the present moment with clarity and resilience.

5. Set realistic expectations

Adjusting to a new environment takes time. Recognize that it’s normal to experience ups and downs during the transition. Set realistic expectations for yourself and understand that feeling fully settled may take time. Be patient and allow yourself to grow and adapt at your own pace.

Make the most of it!

Remember that homesickness is temporary and can be overcome with time and self-care. Focus on taking care of yourself, building new connections, and embracing the opportunities that studying abroad offers. The university experience is a period for great opportunities, growth and discovery, so make the most of it! 

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