Coping with homesickness while abroad

July 4, 2022

Experiencing homesickness while abroad, especially for an extended period, is a common challenge. Whether you're on an Erasmus internship, attending a language course, embarking on a year abroad, or participating in an au pair stay, the distance from family and friends can be emotionally taxing. Let's explore the causes of homesickness and find how to overcome homesickness effectively.

Unraveling the roots of homesickness

This emotion is not uniform and can affect even expats who manage extended absences from home without difficulty and people who swiftly acclimate to new surroundings and establish a sense of belonging. Homesickness essentially constitutes a facet of the culture shock experience, wherein one inadvertently encounters subtle cues abroad that trigger memories of their homeland.

For instance, the frustration of not finding a familiar product or taste in a foreign supermarket can evoke sentiments like "If I were at home, I would have this and that now" or "At home, this and that works better." These instances may occur when encountering a native word in Italy or being reminded of home during a song, conversation with someone who speaks your language, or interactions with individuals familiar with your country. 

How to deal with homesickness

So, what can you do to deal with homesickness and enjoy your stay abroad period?

Leave your comfort zone

While retaining aspects of your language and eating habits is fine, don't cling to them as a way to recreate your home environment. Embrace openness, interact with locals, and immerse yourself in new traditions. Your intercultural competence will expand and you’ll also enrich your experience!

Students abroad eating together

Don’t lose sight of the goal

Constantly remind yourself of the reasons for your overseas adventure. Whether it's learning a new language or gaining a unique cultural experience, keeping your goals in mind can help you stay committed. Embrace the culture of the host country with an open mind, and your curiosity will deepen naturally.

Allocate time for personal reflection

Give yourself moments of solitude to recharge. Disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life, engaging in activities that connect you with home, such as conversations with family, music, books, or movies. These breaks allow you to maintain a balance between embracing the new culture and connecting with your roots.

Connect with people from your country

Building connections with people of your country even when abroad can be beneficial. Look for expat meetings and foster an exchange of experiences. Shared similarities can lead to meaningful friendships, providing a sense of familiarity in a new environment!

Keep a travel diary

Document your experiences and memories in a travel diary. This practice not only helps you process your thoughts but also serves as a cherished memento of your time abroad. Whether during your stay or upon your return, the diary will become a valuable reflection of your journey.

Girl writing on her travel diary while in Italy

Engage with your host family

Initiate cultural exchanges with your host family, sharing traditions and aspects of your home country and your host country. These interactions create a sense of mutual interest and understanding, fostering a supportive environment during your stay.

Surround yourself with people

Avoid isolation by actively seeking group activities. Whether with locals, an Erasmus group, or language school classmates, group interactions alleviate the tendency to dwell on homesickness, allowing you to fully enjoy your time abroad.

Remember, you’re not alone in navigating the challenges of homesickness. Connecting with a supportive community and sharing your thoughts and experiences can be invaluable!

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