This phenomenon usually happens to those who need to move abroad, either they are teaching, studying, working, volunteering or interning. The experience of moving abroad and leaving back your homeland for an extended period of time can be marvellous, but at the same time it can be complicated too.
But, what is homesickness?
Homesickness is an acute form of anxiety or emotional distress that results from feeling disconnected from familiar people and places and forced out of your regular routine. It can arise from different factors; these can be:
- Difficulty adjusting to a new environment
- Confusion and problems understanding a new language and/or culture
…and many other factors.
Homesickness manifests in several ways. Usually, the person suffering from homesickness will be constantly calling friends and family members, will be critically comparing everything that comes from the new environment to their own culture and habits, and putting labels to what’s “normal” and what is not. Also, they might be refusing to taste new things like meals for example, and will reject the new social life. As a result, the person acquires melancholy.
Although it takes effort and time to get through it, homesickness can be controlled and fought, depending on the mental abilities of each person. What is more, is that there are some strategies which can hugely help to get over it.
Try giving these nuggets of advice a go:
- Don’t Skype Every Day
It is amazing how technology can keep you in touch with your loved ones, but if you are spending two hours on Skype every day, you will not be focused on exploring your new home and space and you will stay stuck to your old memories. Of course, it is important to have contact with your family, but it is also more important to keep a healthy balance on how you divide your day regarding your bonds to home and your new location.
- Send Gifts Back Home
It is a nice way to show your family and friends how the country looks/feels/works. Post cards are a great idea, as well as souvenirs like fridge magnets or key rings. This will make you go out of your room/apartment and socialise whilst buying the presents.
- Try and Taste Local Food
Try to find some new, local foods to suit your taste, whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner (or all the three!). I am sure that any country has their ‘something special’ and delicious to serve, it just needs some search and curiosity. Luckily, on campus there are loads of people from all around to share their favourite foods – so if British food isn’t to your liking, try experimenting with your friends favourite dishes from other parts of the world. Plus, it will be easier for you to order food online during a rainy night when you don’t feel like going out to get something. It will make you love your new home more and more and when you go back home, you can cook these new dishes for your family explain how they helped you get over homesickness.
- Take a Break from Social Media
It is true that social media is making it even easier for you to keep up with what everyone else is doing – even what they had for lunch or where they went. But I wouldn’t recommend keeping scrolling through endless pictures from your ex-classmates or colleagues, as this may be harder for you and make your homesickness worse. Instead, you can take beautiful pictures of your new home or have a coffee with some students and make your own posts!
- Exercise Regularly, Start Jogging or Sing up Yourself to the Gym
There is no better way to clear your mind than having an outburst of exercise! Have a look at joining a Sports Club – Essex have over 50! Also, going to the gym can be motivational, refreshing, you can socialise with others and also, you can make a great playlist with your favourite tunes to listen to whilst doing your exercise. At the same time, you will see the good and positive changes on your body and your psychology!
- Make friends, both locals and from your homeland
It is essential that you have some company while you’re studying. You can also schedule a mini trip to a neighbour-country or travel to another town within the same country. This will make your focus on arranging a fun trip go away and you will even build some new friendships/relationships.
- Talk to Others About Your Feelings
It is not something that should be embarrassing and you are not alone in this. It’s OK to talk to someone who is struggling with homesickness too, or have a call with a friend who can listen. All of this positive thinking will share the problem put some more effort into dealing with your situation and also pretending you’re OK in front of your parents might not be the best thing. If you need to have a good cry, do it, but make sure you focus on being positive and it won’t happen the every day.
Also, don’t forget Nightline is also on campus and offers support to students who are having a bad time, especially at night time.
- Make a ‘’To Do List’’ and Try to Accomplish it
I’m not talking about a list of all the work you need to do, but a lifestyle list. Try to find places where you can continue your old habits and hobbies, or even create new ones! Join a society, volunteer, raise money with a group of people for a purpose. You may want to do extreme things like having a tattoo or a piercing – which is fine if that’s hat you want – as long as it doesn’t affect your health!
So, I hope this helps some fellow students who are living far away from home.