Studying abroad can be a life-changing experience filled with adventure and growth, but it can also come with its challenges. One of the most common struggles faced by students is homesickness, missing friends and family back home, and feeling disconnected from familiar surroundings. This can manifest in various forms, such as missing important events, craving familiar food, or longing to watch TV without subtitles. Despite its intensity, homesickness can detract from the overall experience of studying abroad.
Have a Daily Routine
Forming a daily schedule can assist you in managing culture shock. Keeping active and productive can minimize the amount of time you spend feeling lonely or homesick. If you were used to starting your day with a morning walk and a cup of coffee, see if there’s a nearby park you can continue your routine in. If you practiced yoga before bedtime back home, make time to continue doing so in your new surroundings. Incorporating familiar activities into your daily schedule can ease your transition to the new environment.
However, it’s also essential to avoid overworking and suppressing your emotions. While it’s good to stay occupied, it’s okay to acknowledge and process your feelings. But once you have, get back to following your new routine.
Maintain connections with loved ones
Even though it may be challenging to think about your life back home, it’s crucial not to neglect your relationships with your family and friends. Regular communication with those who know you well can boost your spirits if you’re feeling down. You don’t have to fully separate from your old life to adjust to your new culture. Consider planning a trip to visit your family if possible. If travel is not an option, schedule regular video calls to stay connected with your loved ones.
Embrace the new Cultural Experience
Adapting to a new culture can present challenges, with unfamiliar routines and customs. But instead of focusing on the negatives, try to embrace the positive aspects of your new environment. By shifting your perspective to highlight the exciting differences, you can enhance your cultural experience and enjoy your new home to the fullest.
Engage in Social Activities
Although you may feel hesitant to socialize during the difficult adjustment phase, participating in community activities can greatly improve your mood and help you make new friends. If you had a hobby back home, search for a club or organization that shares your interest at your university and get involved. If none exist, consider starting one yourself, as there may be others who share your passion. Take advantage of the abundance of societies and activities available at universities, such as sports teams, faith-based organizations, hobby groups, and even an international student society, where you can connect with peers who understand the culture shock experience.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, it may be helpful to reach out to someone and talk about your experiences. You can reach out to a friend, another international student, a professor, or a designated international representative. There are many people who are ready to offer support and assistance. Universities are equipped to handle students who are experiencing homesickness or feelings of sadness. They may offer to pair you with a mentor or have a counseling service available for you to utilize.
It’s essential that you don’t keep your struggles to yourself and seek support. Don’t make any drastic decisions, such as wanting to return home, without talking to someone about it.
Make Exercise a Priority
Engaging in regular exercise is a key component to overcoming homesickness when studying abroad. Not only will it help improve your mental well-being, but it also ensures that you remain physically fit and healthy during your stay. On the other hand, neglecting your physical health through poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle can worsen your mood and make it harder to cope with homesickness.
Take some time to familiarize yourself with your new surroundings, and then make a plan that includes physical activity and exposure to fresh air every day. Whether it’s going for a run, biking to class, or simply taking walks, try to adopt healthy habits that incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Your body will thank you, and the release of endorphins will naturally boost your mood.
Embrace the Opportunity to Learn Something New
Homesickness can often lead to feelings of boredom and distraction. To combat these feelings, make an effort to engage in learning something new each day. This can help keep your mind active and focused. Consider taking on a new hobby such as learning a new language or trying a new sport. If you’re interested in exploring the local culture, consider taking cooking classes or learning traditional crafts or activities. Immersing yourself in new experiences and knowledge can help you make the most of your time abroad and overcome homesickness.
Set aside some time for yourself.
While it’s not a solution to avoid your issues, dedicating 30 minutes to a peaceful and solitary environment can be highly beneficial. Look for an empty space, like a room or a quiet corner, turn down the lights, and simply breathe and relax. This brief break can help you feel more relaxed and calm.
Alternatively, take a break from city life and visit a scenic location, such as the beach or the mountains. This will allow you to disconnect from technology and remember the reasons why you chose to study abroad. Spending some quiet time with a good book or journal, away from the distractions of technology, can be a soul-soothing experience.