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How to Hop Off the Homesickness Train

by Nichole Johnson
How to Hop Off the Homesickness Train | AIFS Study Abroad | Stellenbosch, South Africa | Nichole Johnson

Last Updated on June 21, 2019 by Nichole Johnson

Okay guys, let’s get serious here for a second.

Today, something unexpected happened.

I became terribly homesick.

Okay, so not totally unexpected, but I definitely wasn’t expecting it to hit so hard and so early on my trip. I’m only 10 days in, and I still have 24 days left to go. But today… today was unexpectedly difficult.

Let me start by saying that these past 10 days have been amazing. I’ve met incredibly interesting people from all over the world: Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Australia, South Africa, and of course the United States. I’ve hiked a mountain, paired wine with chocolate, enjoyed the local restaurants and markets. I’ve learned more in one week of class at Stellenbosch than I thought possible, and I’ve loved every second of it.

But still, being away from home is never easy, especially when it is your first time out of the country. This is the longest and farthest I’ve ever been from my support system. The support system that I’ve spent 21 years building.

But my love for adventure brought me here, and I know it’s where I’m supposed to be.

How to Hop Off the Homesickness Train | AIFS Study Abroad | Stellenbosch, South Africa | Nichole Johnson

Honestly, it’s the weirdest little things that make you realize you’re homesick. My mentor from Pitt-Greensburg warned me that it would hit me randomly.

Update: She was 100% right.

It started when I couldn’t find a bag of pretzels at the grocery store. So many potato chips, no pretzels. From there, it snowballed. I had my first dinner in South Africa that I didn’t absolutely love (cold mac and cheese is definitely not my thing). Then a video of my nephew popped up on Facebook. He may only be three, but that little bugger is my best friend, and I miss him tremendously. And then, to top it off, Honey Nut Cheerios in South Africa are not the same as back home.

So, I’m sitting in my room, overwhelmed by emotions, unsure what to do. I gave myself one moment of panic, and then I took 10 deep breaths.


How to Hop Off the Homesickness Train | AIFS Study Abroad | Stellenbosch, South Africa | Nichole Johnson

In those 24 days, I’m going to do some crazy awesome things. I’m going to continue to learn about South Africa’s history. I’m going to tour Cape Town and stand on the top of Table Mountain. I’m going to jump off the world’s highest commercial bungee bridge and walk with elephants on the Garden Route.

This trip is a once in a lifetime experience. And yeah, okay, some days are going to be better than others. But that’s life. Rollercoasters can’t just go up all the time, or they wouldn’t be any fun. So, while I miss my family more than anything, I know that I have to make every second of this trip count. This is the kind of thing most people dream about, and I have the opportunity to live it! What kind of crazy universe do we exist in that this is my life?!

So now, I’m going to recharge and take on tomorrow with a new attitude. This may be my only time in South Africa, and I’m going to make every second count.

This piece was contributed by Nichole Johnson, who spent her summer studying abroad with AIFS in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

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