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FOMO: How to Fight the Fear of Missing Out

by AIFS Abroad
Girl on her cell phone outside

FOMO: fōmō. noun. early 21st century. abbreviation of fear of missing out.

Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website

Antonyms: YOLO

FOMO: the new homesick. It’s nothing new, but with technology that allows you to check in with friends and family at home 24/7, it is hard to escape. Your application is done, your bags are almost packed and then you realize that you won’t be on campus with your friends next semester and the fear sets in. Or, you are living the dream in Argentina or Australia or another amazing country, but you can’t stop looking at all the photos your friends are posting on facebook and instagram.

I’m missing football season! And spring break! What if my friends replace me? It is normal to be apprehensive about leaving everything behind and having to find new and adjust to a new school, but don’t let fear of missing out prevent you from making the most of this once in a lifetime experience!

Here are our handy tips to help you get through the FOMO:

1. Spend less time on the internet

It is very easy to get caught up in what your friends are doing with Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat…the list goes on. We’ve all been there: before you know it you’ve spent a couple hours looking at every photo that every friend has ever posted. But if you are constantly checking what your friends are doing, you won’t end up doing anything yourself!  You will the miss the opportunity to explore and really get to know your new home. Make them jealous; post a picture of gelato in Italy or one in front of Buckingham Palace and then put your phone on airplane mode.

2. And your smart phone too!

It can be frustrating to not have the same easy access to the internet as you do when you are in the states (unlimited data!), but take advantage of that by purposefully limiting your time on your phone. Give yourself parameters you can work with: a time limit, a budget limit, a tweet limit, etc. Technology is wonderful, and checking in with friends and family can definitely ease homesickness. But you miss out on enough when you are home and constantly checking your phone –now you are in a foreign country! It is easy to forget and reach for it, but try and think twice. You will miss studying abroad every day once you are gone, and you will regret not taking in every last second of the time you had.

3. Check in with family and friends back home

You don’t want to be too out of the loop or make your parents worry so find a balance that works for you. Call your parents on Sunday and tell them about your week; waiting will give  you more to talk about and something to look forward to. Find a good day/time that works with your schedule and the time difference to skype your best friends, but don’t go overboard. You don’t need to check in with everyone. You will miss some things, yes, but you will get over it, make your own memories abroad, and make new memories with your friends when you come home.

4. Get Busy!

Visit a museum, go for a walk, make plans with friends, or find a language partner. If you’re busy you won’t be thinking about what you are missing back home! Whether you are in a big city like Paris, or a “smaller” city like Salamanca, there is always something new and different to see or do. And ask your Resident Director and the staff in the office for ideas. They will have enough recommendations to keep you busy all semester!

5. Talk with your friends who are also studying abroad

Chances are you have a few friends abroad at the same time, and chances are they have also felt the same way at one point or another. They can offer a different point of view, or just listen and understand what you’re going through. Sometimes just talking about it and venting is all you need.

Still have FOMO as you study abroad? Talk to your Resident Director, they are there to help!

Keep in mind that many people at home would love to switch places with you, but maybe they didn’t have the courage to go abroad or they were not able to academically or financially. Study abroad is a unique and special opportunity that most college students cannot or do not take advantage of.

There will be other spring breaks, concerts and semesters at home, but there will only be one trip to Venice, one trip to the Outback or one futbol game in Argentina!

So many students talk about the personal growth they experience during study abroad. It’s okay to miss your friends at home, but be happy for them that they are having a good semester. You are connecting to a new place and new people, and making some of the most special memories of your life.


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