I have a secret to share….studying abroad isn’t all fun and games and adventures and photos and perfect trips. Yes, it is that 97 percent of the time, but what they don’t tell you is that 3 percent of the time, you’re kind of sad. And you get that aching feeling that has you staring at Facebook photos and emailing everyone you know and talking to your parents on the phone for long periods of time. 3 percent of the time (or more or less, depending on your personality), there is some real homesickness to deal with.
I myself was struck by this around two months into my trip. It really came to a head when I got back from Switzerland and got off the plane and found I was in Israel, not at home. I started crying like a five year old in the arrival gate with no idea why and no idea how to stop it. And that feeling persisted for a solid week and a half. But I have three tips to help you overcome your study abroad homesickness and I’m going to share them here.
- Don’t be ashamed. It is OK to feel homesick! Turns out many other people in my program have had the same plane experience when they’ve gone on short trips out of the country. So talk about it, because other people are feeling the same things you are. It’s OK to admit it to yourself, your friends and your family. There is nothing wrong with you and it is OK to miss home.
- Let yourself wallow in it a little. Skype a bunch with people from home, stare at photos, write long emails, obsess over your hometown newspaper’s website. Look at home and remember all the great things about it. Let yourself enjoy it a little and give yourself a taste of it.
- But know, that this too shall pass. Don’t let yourself descend into a pit of sadness. Distract yourself, plan a fun day trip, go to your favorite restaurant in your abroad city, spend time with your friends. Remind yourself that in a few weeks, you will be more disappointed if you just wallowed than if you took advantage of your surroundings.
So basically, accept it, succumb to it just a smidgen, then pick yourself up and move on. You can do it. I did. Two weeks ago, I didn’t know how I was going to get through the last chunk here and now, I’m just so excited about what the next 32 days have in store for me.