Embarking on a new journey like study abroad, although exciting, can feel scary and confusing at first — especially if you are traveling alone. Feelings of homesickness tend to play a big part in this, particularly in your first couple days (at least in my case). Airplane food that doesn’t agree with you, dehydration, and jet lag tend not to help the issue.
Here are six ways you can ease your homesickness when you study abroad.
1. Make yourself feel better about the distance.
I learned that study abroad homesickness can stem from a lot of different thoughts and emotions, but if distance is one of them, try and look at things from a new perspective while you’re away. I found it comforting to look up into the night sky and realize that the same moon that I’m looking at across the world is the same moon my family sees at home. Sometimes simply looking at the distance through a more positive and wholesome lens can help a lot.
2. Unpack ASAP.
Seriously, as soon as possible. Seeing your things packed and piled up in your suitcase for days after you arrive will not help you feel settled in your new room that you are now supposed to call home for the next four months! When you’re busy meeting new people, going to orientation activities, and coping with jet lag, it’s easy to put unpacking on the back-burner. I found that as soon as I took the time to sort through all of my many, many things in my suitcase and arrange them in ways that made sense to me around the room, I felt more settled. Being someone who likes their space a very particular way, unpacking was of the utmost importance (whether I realized it then or not!).
3. Make yourself as comfortable as possible.
Whether this means buying a second (or third) blanket for your bed, hanging a poster up, or bringing along a fragrance you like to make your room smell familiar, definitely try and make yourself comfortable in your new space or city. Bring your favorite t-shirt from home to sleep in!
4. Remind yourself you are not alone.
Although it may seem like everyone around you is fine, chances are there are several others experiencing the same study abroad homesickness as you. From a different perspective, I found it comforting to think about the fact that I am not alone in terms of my support system behind me. Thinking about all of the support and love I have back home really helped. Don’t forget that all those people who wished you well as you left to study abroad are rooting for you!
5. Push yourself.
Regardless of how much you may think you need to just sit in your room to regroup for the first couple days you’re abroad, don’t. Push yourself to go out, talk to new friends, and explore your new city. Those initial few days are often when the foundation of possible friendships are established — definitely something you don’t want to miss out on! Go out there and you’re your traveling buddies! Plus, getting yourself out there will help scare away feelings of regret or fear.
6. Get excited about your new home!
Take a minute, breathe, and really realize that you are in a truly amazing chapter of your life that you are going to remember forever. Reflect on all of the time it took to get your visa, write all of those essays, get credits approved for classes and think about how it’s finally worth it, and how you are so incredibly lucky to have this experience! Capture your city’s beauty; fall in love with the culture. These are thoughts that inspire me to keep learning and exploring Prague.