“Do you think you will feel homesick during study abroad? I asked this question at a pre-departure session, in which I was discussing strategies for student success with a group who were leaving soon to study in the UK, US, Canada, Australia and other destinations.
Not a single hand went up! “Bravo!” I said. But after you reach your campuses abroad, do send me a message on Diwali!
We parted. And then on Diwali, I got several messages— students were indeed missing home!
So, what are some tips to reduce feeling homesick? This is what this blog is about. What I’m sharing here are my own observations as a professor teaching overseas, and what many students have shared with me about how they have dealt with homesickness. Let me begin with two important clarifications:
First, feeling homesick is a normal emotion. It is experienced (in varying degrees) by anyone who leaves familiar spaces they call “home” and are in environments or amongst people who are unfamiliar. Secondly, this is an emotion, a feeling, not a “sickness”, so let us just call it “missing home”!
Ways to Reduce Homesickness While Studying Abroad
I have two strategies to offer if you are experiencing this emotion of “missing home”.
This means identifying what is different in your new world. What is it that requires a change in your lifestyle and preferences? Adapt! This will help you to feel more organized and confident. If you feel overwhelmed and feel you cannot cope with work, you are likely to miss home even more.
Also Read: How to Build A Network in A New Country?
Reflect and Analyze
This is about engaging with your emotions and reminding yourself about why you are away from home. For each of these strategies I have 5 quick tips below:
- 1. Be sure to adapt your clothing to the weather. Being comfortable helps with feeling good!
- Structure your day to the required schedule. Daylight hours can be short in winter in western climates. Align your work, sleep, rest, grocery time and social time so that you feel you are coping well.
- When you plan the week, also plan the weekend with some downtime with friends. Friday night Movie? Indian restaurant? A cooking session with friends on Saturday?
- Even if you make short calls home every day, set a regular schedule to chat with family and friends back home. You will look forward to that and feel connected. Group video calls can be fun!
- Join several activities on campus and make friends. You can drop a few later if the study program is too demanding. If an Indian festival or your Birthday is approaching, don’t be shy to tell a few friends in advance and plan an outing. Most students are happy to share expenses.
Reflect and Analyze
When you are missing home intensely, especially on special days like birthdays or family weddings which you cannot attend, here is a mind game to play. Ask yourself:
- Why am I away from home? (Objectives).
- What are my dreams? (Long-term goals?
- What will this learning or work experience do to empower me? (Opportunities).
- How will I be more empowered once I have successfully completed this program? (Skill-set enhancement).
- How can I make the most of this wonderful opportunity? (Motivation to study harder and focus on internships and job searches).
In short: Remind yourself of your dreams.
Homesickness is a normal emotion that anyone can feel when they are uprooted from home, family and friends. So accept it as a feeling, not a ‘problem emotion’ and definitely not a ‘sickness’! In order to prevent feeling sad and disheartened, find different ways to adapt to your new world as quickly as possible and get involved in activities around you. Make friends! Finally, when you experience the feeling of missing home, remind yourself of all the efforts you have made to reach this new opportunity! Think about why you have left home and reflect on the new opportunities that await you.
We hope the above-mentioned ways to reduce homesickness while studying abroad will help anyone who is missing home, friends and family. Remember that leaving home for work or study is not about getting stuck somewhere. It’s about experiencing new worlds and “Flying High”!
We will be back next Friday with another amazing blog from Dr Maina Chawla Singh. Till then, if you have any questions or suggestions, just drop us a comment and we will get back to you. Want to study abroad? Our Leverage Edu experts are ready to assist you in narrowing down the best course and university options according to your interests and preferences.