The international student must embrace a lot of change. From different countries, to brand new learning environments, to an entire community of friends and beyond. At times all these things can seem daunting, but the catch 22 is that these are the things that make study abroad a truly rewarding experience.
When all is said and done, there's no point pretending the excitement of your new home will help you forget your last. You won't forget, and at times you will really miss home, and that includes the people and the memories you were forced to leave behind...
Top 4 tips for dealing with homesickness:
1. Keep yourself busy
The times you find yourself alone and more or less unoccupied are the times you are most likely to start pining for home. Instead of moping around and letting those broody thoughts take hold, it's best to keep youself busy doing things you enjoy. At first it can seem scary, but if you throw yourself out there you will get the chance to meet some really awesome people. And once you've 'broken the ice', as they say, why not invite them round to hang out and get to know them on an even deeper level? If you sometimes feel anxious, this could be a really great way to form those crucial bonds, since being in your home environment will make you feel at ease. If you open yourself up to meeting like-minded people, you'll start to build a sort of family and it'll feel a lot like home.
On days when you're feeling really down, why not cook up one of your favourite meals? This should provide some comfort, and home's familiar taste may even trigger some sweet feelings of nostalgia. Still feeling up tight? Try going to see a movie, visiting the gym, reading a book or even just heading outside for a stroll - fresh air and some healthy exercise are ideal tactics for easing off those pesky homesick pangs when you aren't in class or studying. If you keep yourself active in your daily routine, you'll have a lot less time to stray to thoughts of home.
2. Get involved
Universities are renowned for hosting fun and vibrant campus activities. Getting involved with some of the clubs and societies are an excellent way to make friends and integrate with the community. Most universities also promote a diverse global atmosphere, and joining an international student society is the best way to meet fellow students going through the same things as you. These students are also likely to be missing home, so sharing your experiences together will open up a friendly and understanding support network you know you can rely on.
3. Keep in touch with home
Whatver you do, don't shut yourself off from your connections back home. Skype is a really great way to keep in touch - not only is it free and easy to use, but the video call option allows you to see each other as you talk, and that's a great way to help you feel close. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and also apps like WhatsApp, are also good for a catch up with your mates.
Be sure to catch up on the happenings back home so you still feel involved, but it's important to make sure you fill them in on all the exciting things happening in your life, too. Regular contact with your friends and family overseas will help bridge the distance, and will provide you with a really great source of comfort.
4. Don’t hesitate to ask for help
If you find catching up with your best and brightest really isn't enough, don't be afraid to ask for help from the staff at your host university. They are there, after all, to ensure you are comfortable and help you feel at home. These people are trained to deal with your vey situation; they understand the pressures international students have to face, and have the knowledge and expertise to be able to direct you to the best source for help.
All universities will provide international student support services such as counselling, recreational activities, social clubs and mentoring programmes - all you have to do is ask!
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