Your year abroad is arguably one of the most exciting parts of your degree, but it also comes with a lot of anxiety over homesickness. Here are five tips to help you avoid feelings of homesickness.
1. Meet new people: Meetup
There’s this great website that is used for not just finding activities to do, but also improving your language skills. Meetup has a massive range of things from language exchanges to weekly runs in local parks. Meeting new people seems cliché but really is one of the best ways to feel more at home in your new city. It's also really useful if you’re working in a very corporate firm where it’s difficult to make friends your own age. Check out the Berlin website for some inspo.
2. Don’t go home too much
Budget airlines are an amazing miracle, but don’t overuse them. If you’re going back home every month because flights are only 30 quid, this is going to make it so much more difficult to put down roots and make friendships in your new home. Chances are that your year abroad contract states it as a ‘continuous period abroad’, and they’re serious about this for a reason - not only does this hinder your chances of improving your language skills, it also makes it so much more difficult to develop a routine if you’re constantly thinking about when you’re next going back to your home country. It also makes it all the more painful when you have to go back to your other country again.
The same thing goes for Skype as well, yes it helps, but calling your parents or partner every evening causes all the same problems. It’s a great tool for catching up of course, but you will see them again when you finish your Year Abroad. Make sure to remember that.
3. Get a new hobby, but keep some old ones
Your Year Abroad is a great time to find some new hobbies but continuing an old one in your new country is a brilliant way to keep up a routine and also meet new people. Doing something in your new home that you already did back in your old one adds some continuity into your life that’ll really help if you find that you’re missing home.
4. Try some new food
Take this opportunity to try something new - you might be surprised. Maybe try having a cooking night with your flatmates or looking on Meetup for something similar.
Trying new food is great, but most countries will have a foreign section of the supermarket where you can pick up a tin of beans or a bar of Cadbury’s (but beware that it will cost you dearly).
Make sure you eat well to not just get your nutrients, but also look after your mental health.
5. Create a routine and keep occupied
Being occupied is key to keeping the homesickness at bay, and a good way to do this is to create a routine. A part-time job, if possible, can help fill in hours where all you’d be doing is mindlessly scrolling through your Insta feed and also gives you a bit of spare cash to spend on travelling around your new home. Try checking out all the touristy bits of where you live and do something new every day, but a crucial thing is not to drink too much. Firstly, hardly any countries' students drink as much as we do in the UK and it’s just not as acceptable of a thing. It’s also really bad for your physical and mental health. This is why hobbies and jobs are important for keeping yourself otherwise occupied.
Remember: this period abroad is only a short time in your life in the grand scheme of things. This time will end, and you will get to go home at the end of it. If you remember this, it may make everything seem less daunting and help you enjoy your time in an amazing new country.
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