Remedies for the Study Abroad Blues

Nele van Hout

A semester can seem very long when you're far from home. Here's how to cope.

I love living in England; moving to a different country to study has been the best decision that I've ever made. However, that doesn't mean that I don't get homesick every now and then. Sometimes I see things, smell things, or hear things that remind me of home, my country or my family and the wave hits me hard.

Here are my top remedies for dealing with homesickness:

1) Stay busy

I know, I know. This might seem like you’re avoiding the problem instead of actually dealing with it. But my homesickness usually hits me when I stop being busy. When I have time to sit down and let everything sink in, the emotions hit hardest.

I now know that doing something to take your mind of your homesickness really helps. I go for a walk, play some guitar, write a blog post, take photos, focus on university work or go for lunch with a friend.

2) Talk about it

A mistake I made often in the beginning was burying my feelings. I kept thinking "it’ll pass," or "people won’t understand me or will think I'm weak for feeling this way."

Let me tell you this; everybody gets homesick sometimes. It’s completely normal. Burying things might help for a while, but eventually it’ll only come back worse. It’s scary opening up to people and showing your vulnerability, but getting these thing off your shoulders is incredibly relieving. People won’t judge you, they’ll simply be there to help you.

3) Contact home

Being homesick only shows that you love both places and that you have two homes. When I get homesick I sometimes just need to call my parents, Skype with one of my sisters, or message a friend who still lives in the Netherlands. Even chatting about the mundane reminds you that they’ll always be there for you, which usually helps.

4) Remember why you are here

Everybody who studies or lives abroad for a lengthy period of time is likely to experience a moment of homesickness. Of course it’s difficult to be away from your common surroundings and people you love for a long time. But keep in mind why you took this important step in your life.

Why did you move abroad? Why did you decide to study here? What will you gain from it? I often remind myself how lucky I am to be able to do what I love here, as well as all the beautiful things I have experienced in the last two and a half years.

5) Plan a trip home 

I’m very blessed to still live close to my home country. It's relatively cheap to fly home and doesn't take too long. (From the moment I leave my house in England, until the moment I arrive at my parents’ house, only about seven hours have passed.) I know that not everybody who studies abroad has the luxury of being able to go home that easily. However, It’s not always easy for me because finding time off is the most tricky bit.

When homesickness reaches its peak, I plan a little trip home. Last May, I was incredibly stressed because of money and university issues, and after planning a trip home for in July, things eased out a little bit for me.

Studying abroad enriches your life like no other experience. Homesickness is awful, but I try to not let it get to me. I now know homesickness comes in waves. It always feels horrible but, in time, it will eventually pass.

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Published in Study Abroad Blogs
Nele van Hout

Nele (Nayla) van Hout is a Dutch student who decided to study a full-time degree in overseas. She now lives in Manchester where she studies English and Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University, England, UK.


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