Everyone tells you that studying abroad is one of the best experiences you will ever have. This is the time to learn about a new culture, country and about yourself. It’s one of the biggest opportunities of a lifetime! While all these things are true, there’s still something that people forget when talking about taking the leap abroad: homesickness.
Feeling homesick while abroad sucks and it also sets in a bit of guilt. How dare I feel sad or homesick when I’m so lucky to be embarking on one of the greatest journeys a college student can take?
Being homesick is inevitable and that’s something everyone should learn before coming abroad. It’s also important to know that feeling this way is completely normal.
I think I can speak for most students in our group when I say that this is our first time away from home. Sure, packing up your room and making the trip to Champlain College in Vermont, just to have your parents send you on your way for 8 months can be pretty tough. Being away from your family when you’re not even in America is definitely a greater challenge!
During orientation back in August, we learned about the highs and lows of a student’s journey abroad. Generally students start off in the honeymoon phase- where everything is fresh, new and exciting! About a month to two months after, that excitement slowly declines and we become homesick. (It’s safe to say that this is where most students have been at these past few weeks!) This lull happens even while home and at school; midterms are piling up, Fall break and Thanksgiving is just around the corner and going home sounds more and more tempting. After this, students are back on track towards a gradual incline- Fall break happens, homework has slowed down a bit and going home is in the near future!
It would be a travesty to sit around and wish your time away! Here’s a list of things you can do when you’re feeling homesick, whether it be at school or abroad:
Utilize social media and Skype
This tip needs to be done very carefully. It’s so easy to be sucked into life back home. There’s a fine line between catching up with family and friends and then catching up with them constantly, shutting yourself out from everything else your time abroad has to offer! Make time to talk to your family and friends and update them on your life because they really do want to know all that you are up to. (You are on an exciting journey after all) It’s easy to forget that life is still happening back home so it’s nice to catch up and stay in the loop. Skype is the best way to talk to people- it’s free and it’s almost as if you’re still talking face to face!
Postcards are a great way to keep in touch with others and are relatively cheap. Most places around Dublin offer 3 postcards for a euro. A postcard is a personal souvenir to loved ones in itself! You can buy a pack of 10 international stamps at the post office and there are tons of post boxes across Dublin. They’re green and you can’t miss ’em!
Make a bucket list
I feel like I’ve gotten homesick whenever things started to get boring. That may sound silly, being in a new place, but things quickly fall into a routine. One of the best things to combat this is to make a list of things you want to do. Champlain Dublin’s ability to give students no classes on Friday creates so much room for adventure! Act like a tourist- you never know when or if you’ll be here again! Stay curious. There is so much to do in Ireland it’s impossible not to find things that spark your interest. Make a list, check it twice and make it your mission to go do them!
Alright, I know what you’re thinking “Exercise? Sarah, you’re a comedian”. Luckily for Champlain Abroad Dublin students, our commute to school is 30 minutes. That’s automatically 2.4 miles of cardio in your day and while it sounds daunting- your body quickly gets used to it. Consider taking the trek to school alone. It’s one of the best times to get focused and be by yourself. Also, take time out of your schedule to do some yoga, Zumba, go for a run, play a sport- whatever your heart desires. Doing this clears your mind and will make you feel so much better.
Above all else, simply remember that others are feeling the same way. In talking to other people, you become each other’s cheerleaders- “You can do it!”
At the end of the day take a moment to reflect on how fortunate you are! Being abroad opens up so many opportunities that many others will never be able to experience themselves. Before you know it, the tables will turn and you’ll be homesick for your time abroad!
Champlain Abroad Dublin, Fall 2015
Champlain College – Communications’17
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