Studying abroad is a significant commitment. In most cases, students spend several years working towards their educational goals in a foreign country. If this happens to be your first long-term outing away from home, family, relatives and friends, there is a high likelihood of you feeling homesick very soon. If not, it's just a matter of time until homesickness catches up with you. What I would like share with you are a few useful tips to avoid homesickness when studying abroad. You get homesick when you find yourself lonely and unoccupied because it drives you to draw memories from back home about all the things you're missing out on by being away.
- Put your best effort on your studies. This is the reason why you are here. So make sure your studies get top priority. If you are falling behind with your studies, it can cause depression, which in turn could lead to homesickness. You don't have to be the best in your bunch, but make sure that you are at least on par with most.
- Make new friends. Building a network of friends and colleagues could help reduce homesickness to a great extent. Whether it's the accommodation that you share, a party that you go to, a club, social get-together, pubs, nightclubs, church or the classroom itself, you have countless opportunities to make lots of new friends. Talk to them, introduce yourself, and see if you have common interests and topics to share. Not everyone you meet will be on the same wavelength, so use your discretion to find out who you can be friendly with. Make friends with boys and girls, young and old, from different countries and cultures. Finding a girlfriend or boyfriend could well be a good option, but ensure that it doesn't segregate you from the student community and group experiences.
- Engage in your personal interests. Pursue any areas of interest or hobbies you were used to back home. Whether it be a sport, leisure activity or hobby, try to keep yourself occupied. If you have a passion for it, it'll keep your interest growing and your mind occupied.
- Look for new experiences. If you are from the tropics, your first experience of snow can be quite overwhelming. Search for new experiences like this that draw your attention. If you haven't tried skiing before, have a go at it. Go to the beach with friends in the summer, try surfboarding, take forest walks, etc. Perhaps you could join a local club. Find a part-time job. Again, the trick is knowing where to draw the line. If you overwork, you may find yourself running short of time for more important things.
- Keep in touch with people back home. Another thing that will help reduce homesickness is to stay in touch with loved ones regularly. In a day and age where so many communications options and alternatives are offered, exploit them. Call, SMS, chat or email friends and family regularly. Make it feel like you are with them.
At the end of the day, it's all about avoiding loneliness. You need to keep your mind occupied, not just with your studies, but with lots of different and exciting things, as mentioned above. A combination of the above options will help keep homesickness away.