School stress is kicking in. You haven’t had your food from your country for a while now, and you don’t even feel like going to have dinner in the city. You just stay in and watch your friends’ snaps or read your family’s group chat, wishing you were there too. Or that you could at least have a good night of sleep in your old bed.
Well, if you present some of these symptoms you are probably suffering from homesickness, an extremely well known feeling at EF Academy. Number one fact about it? Every international student goes through it at least once. If you haven’t yet, I bet you will at some point.
But fear not, fellow student. Speaking from experience, nothing is as bad as it may look like when you are feeling homesick. And to help you put yourself together in these times of despair, here are my top 8 ways to overcome homesickness:
Leave your room
If you spend too much time inside your dorm, you will easily get bored, start to make comparisons and feel like you would be having a better time if you were in your country. But, let’s face it: you’re not even trying to enjoy the experience. Go outside. See what is going on in campus. Meet new people. Go for a walk. There are endless possibilities. And please understand that studying is important, but having a social life is too. Find a balance.
Talk to someone about it
As I said before, pretty much everyone at else at school feels homesick too, so don’t be ashamed to go to people and take it off your chest. You might want to talk to a friend or, if it’s your first year, to an Ambassador — they have gone through it (and probably still do, at times) and will know how to support you. You may even end up exchanging some fun stories from home… It might also be worth talking to your House Parent. They have seen this happen more times than you can imagine and won’t judge you, they are just there to help you overcome any issues you might have.
Keep in touch with your friends/family back home (but not all the time)!
Skype and WhatsApp can definitely be allies against homesickness. I mean, if you miss someone, there’s nothing better than spending some time talking to them, right? But while it can make distance feel a lot shorter, texting or calling your family and friends from home all the time makes you miss them even more and prevents you from interacting with new friends. Again, it’s all about balance.
Bring a little bit of home with you
Have something that reminds you of home. It could be some photos you like, letters or gifts you have gotten, your country’s flag or even some typical snacks (these are popular around here, because people love to share them with their international friends). You can put them around your room to make it feel more like home or perhaps just looking at them when you are feeling homesick will make you feel better.
Spend some time with people from your country
I am most definitely not saying you should stay with people from your country all the time (there would be no point in studying abroad then). What I am saying is that when you feel homesick, it might help to speak in your own language. Also, there undeniably are some expressions and cultural aspects that only people from your country could understand.
Something my friends and I really like to do is “get lost” in the city. Simply sightseeing, going to museums, walking streets you have never been to or trying new food. You might discover some interesting things about the place where you now live and this will show you the best side of studying abroad. By all means, it will keep you distracted from feeling homesick.
Get some rest
Stress commonly leads to homesickness. It might be that the deadlines are driving you crazy, it might be that your homework load is too much to handle, but whatever situation you are going through feels a lot worse under stress. And since stress can make you tired, it can be a good idea to get some sleep. You will probably feel a lot better once you wake up. You might also want to try having a hot shower, spending some time with your friends and, of course, the Netflix technique.
But remember… it’s okay to miss home!
OK, this is not exactly a way to overcome homesickness… but, come on, you will be giving yourself a hard time if you try to run away from it every time you miss home a little bit. It isn’t anything terrible to miss home anyway, all it means is that you have had some amazing memories with great people and places at home too! Not bad at all, right?
This blog post was written by Ana Luiza Loio, current student at EF Academy Oxford.
EF Academy international boarding schools provide the guidance and support that students need during their time abroad.