Doing a study abroad program or international internship is, for most students, a memorable time away from campus life, but no one is immune to FOMO. “Fear of missing out” is common for young people, largely due to social media. Sure, you may be on the adventure of a lifetime while you’re abroad, but it’s completely normal to think about what your friends and family are up to back home. What if they’ve forgotten you? What if they’ve replaced you? Of course, this won’t happen because your loved ones will miss you, and they’ll want you to have a good time overseas!
You may experience FOMO while you study abroad, so here are some tips for overcoming it just in case:
First, what is FOMO anyways?
As we said, FOMO stands for “fear of missing out” and many college students are susceptible to its grasp. It makes sense — college is the first time many students are out on their own, forging friendships with other students that become almost like family. Of course you’d be worried that your friends and family are having fun without you when you’re not there! But if you let it consume you, you’ll forget to have fun while you’re studying or interning abroad.
Take a break from social media
Perhaps the biggest FOMO trigger is scrolling through your feeds and seeing your friends and family having fun without you. If you feel the need to be on social media to share your adventures, we don’t blame you — but to avoid or conquer FOMO, consider cutting back just a little bit. Maybe instead of posting right after something Instagram-worthy happens, do a big photo dump at the end of the month or program. That way you stay present in your experience abroad and don’t get distracted by what your friends and family are doing back home.
Stick to a schedule
Keeping a planner or a calendar is a helpful way to stay present while you’re experiencing the time of your life abroad. Not only will it help you keep track of your workload, but if you need to do something at a certain time, you’re less likely to waste your time on social media and go down a FOMO rabbit hole.
The truth is, you’re going to be so busy during your study abroad or internship experience overseas that you won’t have a ton of time to feel FOMO in the first place! Your schedule will be packed with things to do, and while it’s likely you won’t be able to fit in everything your host country has to offer, it’s worth a try! Staying focused on events and plans in your host city will mean you’re less likely to be thinking about what’s going on in the U.S. thousands of miles away! Not sure what to do? Ask the on-site staff on your program what’s around. They have a unique view of your location and are happy to share it with you.
“As time has passed, I’ve stopped thinking about what’s going on at home. When I continue to comment or reflect on it, the FOMO creeps back in, so I try and stay busy, and have invested my time and energy in new and exciting experiences. The places I have visited and the opportunities I have had thus far in France simply do not compare to what I’m ‘missing’ at home.” – Autumn C., AIFS Abroad in Cannes, France alum
Pro-Tip: Did you know AIFS Abroad programs include a ton of social and cultural activities, as well as day trips and excursions, to keep you immersed in your life abroad? So long, FOMO!
Check in on your loved ones
Just because you’re taking a few breaks from social media doesn’t mean you have to be completely out of the loop. If you can, try to call your parents or loved ones regularly. Not only will that be good for their mental health, but it will also help you mark time during your experience. As for friends, a simple FaceTime or WhatsApp call every once in a while can help keep you in the loop about what’s happening on-campus.
Make new friends
Odds are you’re not the only one in your study abroad cohort experiencing FOMO. Talk to them! Studying abroad is a great way to make new friends and create memories that will last a lifetime. Of course, you miss home and your family, but you have the opportunity to create a home and family away from home by studying abroad.
“It’s amazing how you get to know people differently when you go on adventures with them. Whether it’s sitting around in the airport for two hours before our flights took off, or bus rides to and from wherever we were staying, or even 5-hour train rides — we got really close really fast. We have insides jokes that seem to get more and more funny as time goes on, a group chat that never stops going off, and memories that will last me a lifetime.” – Makenna O., AIFS Abroad in Athens, Greece alum
Keep a journal/blog
Instead of posting on social media, try keeping a journal or a blog instead. Not only will this help you remember things that happened on your study abroad program when you’re back in the U.S., but it will also keep you in the present… or near present. When your friends inadvertently make you feel jealous of on-campus activities, you’ll be able to say, “Oh, that was the day I visited the Colosseum!”
“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.” – Natalie K., AIFS Abroad in London, England alum
Defy Your Fear of FOMO and Study Abroad
If you’re considering a study abroad or international internship program, you’ve come to the right place. Here at AIFS Abroad, we offer incredible program options in various destinations worldwide. With inclusions such as tuition, housing, insurance, excursions and activities, on-site staff, and emergency support, you’ll have a stress-free global education experience. Our team is here to support you every step of the way — including if you experience FOMO while you study abroad! Immerse yourself in a new place and culture while earning college credits. Are you ready?