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How to Avoid FOMO While Studying Abroad

by Natalie Khait
College students at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France | AIFS Study Abroad

When I came to London, the one I was most afraid of was the “fear of missing out,” or FOMO, that I was going to have while studying abroad. It’s something I’ve struggled with since I was a child.

The biggest piece of advice I can give you to avoid FOMO while studying abroad is based on my personal experience:be present. By focusing your attention on the time and place that you are in, you will start to enjoy your experience and not worry about everything else that is going on at home.

Here are some quick tips that I find super helpful for avoiding FOMO while studying abroad and having a fulfilling experience:

1. Take Time Away from Social Media

There may be times when you will be studying for tests or doing school work while abroad and you go on Instagram to see your friends hanging out or doing something fun on campus back at home. It can be difficult to stay off social media, but I suggest trying to limit the time you spend on those sites to once a day. You may want to post everything you’re doing while you’re studying abroad, but by checking more often, you might find yourself tempted to see what your friends in the United States are doing.

If you find yourself looking at what all of your friends are up to back home and start to feel FOMO while studying abroad, do your best to not to let it get to you. Remember: you are creating memories of your own overseas and the things that they are doing are nothing compared to all of the adventures that you are going on.

2. Find a Spot that Makes You Happy

Finding a place or activity that keeps you sane is a great technique to improve your happiness, help you focus on things around you, and not divert your attention to what’s going on at home.

One thing that helped me avoid FOMO abroad was finding a spot in the city and making that spot my safe space. I always go there when I am stressed, need some space to cool off, or just want to do something I enjoy. I love writing, so I venture to this favorite spot of mine and write in my journal about all the wonderful memories I’m making and adventures I’m having.

If you are really feeling homesick or are having trouble being abroad, talk to someone! You can speak with an AIFS Resident Director, a counselor, a professor — anyone who might be able to provide support. They can bring you back to center and to a point of happiness.

3. Set a Schedule

I suggest keeping a planner or a calendar so you are mindful and present in what you are doing everyday. Writing down all the experiences and trips that you have planned gives you something to look forward to and helps you focus less on what’s going on back home.

Also, scheduling your schoolwork and keeping tabs on your day-to-day workload helps you not waste your time on social media and experiencing FOMO. You will feel more productive and on top of your schoolwork while simultaneously not focusing your attention on what’s happening in the United States. It lets you focus on other things and and your own experiences and events rather than looking at what other people are doing thousands of miles away.

4. Talk to Students Who Are in Your Program

You’re not the only one in this situation. One of the best ways to reduce your FOMO is to connect with people around you who are in the same situation. One of the great parts of studying abroad is making new friends and new memories with them. Talking to them about what is going on will make you feel more comfortable about being away from home and will help you establish and create a home away from home. I can tell you that all the people I have met on my program have become my best friends and I wouldn’t trade the friendships I have with them.

Travel journal | AIFS Study Abroad

5. Keep a Journal or Blog

Keeping a journal or writing a blog will let you reflect on everything that you have done while you have been abroad. I keep a journal with all of my adventures and write a page everyday of what I have done. I also make collages with pictures, tickets and passes to all the places that I have visited. Keeping a journal is a bit different than documenting everything on social media because a journal is a little piece of you that can be kept private. Keeping a journal will let you reminisce on all the memories you made while abroad later down the road when you are back in the United States.

Things happen so fast during a study abroad experience. There may be times where you want to lock yourself in your room and not talk to anyone or wish that you’re at home and doing all the things that your friends are doing. Just remember that you’re on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. There is so much to do and so much to see. Embrace those adventures and everything you are able to do. FOMO is hard, but you can overcome it by surrounding yourself with people who are in the same situation as you and taking time for yourself. It will make studying abroad that much better.

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