I am currently (October 2023) on a semester abroad in London. I will be studying here for about three months and have never been away from home for so long before. Through exchange programs and my trip to Kyrgyzstan, I've experienced homesickness before, so fortunately I'm not as affected by it as I was during my first student exchange in 7th grade.
Every person reacts differently to (longer) trips. Some people struggle with homesickness more than others. No matter how badly you feel homesick, it's a perfectly normal reaction that's nothing to be ashamed of. In this article, I'd like to share some tips for homesickness that have helped me.
To alleviate homesickness, you must first accept it. It does no good to deny that you are homesick. Instead, you should be honest with yourself.
For example, you can print out a calendar on which you can check off the days you already “completed.” Also, keep in mind that almost everyone feels homesick when they are away from home for a longer period of time. You grow from your challenges, and a semester abroad or a trip to a foreign country offers huge potential for personal development.
Homesickness basically means that you feel very comfortable at home and have a good (social) environment there. This is actually something very positive and you should be grateful to have a home – to which you will return sooner or later.
Although you should accept homesickness, you shouldn't get caught up in your grief and make it worse. Even if you would prefer to isolate yourself, you should seek contact with other people. In my experience, you always feel better in social contexts with other people and do not think so much about your negative feelings.
In addition, you can visit places of interest in the new environment or, if there are none, explore your surroundings. New impressions and occupations displace the negative feelings and make them more bearable.
Contact with home
Thanks to technologies such as video calls or messaging apps, it is possible to contact home at any time. For example, you can talk to your family or friends on the phone and keep each other up to date. It is important, however, to know your own preferences. While some people appreciate regular contact with home, for others it only intensifies homesickness. To find out, you'll have to experiment a bit and listen to what your emotions tell you.
In general, it can also help to write down what you have experienced and share it with people from home.
Homesickness is a very individual feeling that affects everyone differently. The tips presented in this article represent just a few of the things you can do to combat homesickness. It is quite normal to have such feelings and there is nothing to be ashamed of. When you understand and accept your own emotions abroad, you get to know yourself better.
If you have any other tips for homesickness, feel free to share them with me so I can add them to this article!