Dealing With Homesickness: Tips For International Students
Dealing with homesickness can be tough for international students whose families are usually miles away. Fortunately, there are some effective ways that you can manage that sadness and make the most out of your new environment and adventure.
In this blog post, we will discuss some tips to help you manage your feelings of homesickness and continue enjoying your time at university.
What is homesickness?
Homesickness is a feeling of sadness or nostalgia caused by being away from one’s home. It can refer to a physical or emotional longing for home and may manifest itself in different ways, such as thoughts of home, cravings for certain foods, longing for familiar faces or places, restlessness, etc.
Symptoms of homesickness
Homesickness can range from feeling a bit blue to having severe anxiety and depression. Common symptoms can include restlessness, irritability, sadness, difficulty concentrating, and a general feeling of being out of place.
Effects of homesickness
Homesickness can be pretty debilitating for international students, and it can often lead to feelings of anxiety and depression. Which inevitably affects the study-abroad experience of the students.
Dangers of homesickness
While homesickness can be uncomfortable, for most people, it is not a danger. However, for some people, homesickness can lead to more serious problems. Some dangers of homesickness include:
- Feeling isolated and alone
- Becoming depressed or anxious
- Developing problems with eating or sleeping
- Struggling in school or work
- Having problems with relationships
Tips for Dealing with Homesickness as an International Student
1. Reach out to your support network
Reach out to your family and friends from home as much as possible! Talking about how you’re feeling can help reduce homesickness and make it easier to cope. Even though there may be a physical distance between you two or a significant time difference, you can still stay connected via Skype, Zoom, FaceTime or WhatsApp and let them know that you miss them.
Many international students find that regularly keeping in touch via text messages, video calls, or other social media helps them feel less alone.
Remember that your fellow international students are likely experiencing something similar, so don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Finding a sense of community among other students in your program can help make life abroad more enjoyable, and it may provide much-needed comfort when homesickness strikes.
2. Keep yourself connected to your home
Use technology to stay in touch with those back home and find ways to remind yourself of home, like setting up images of loved ones on your desktop screen or listening to music from back home. Reading or watching the news from your home country can also be instrumental in dealing with homesickness.
3. Get involved in activities at school
Participating in after-school clubs and extracurricular activities will not only help combat feelings of homesickness but also introduce you to new people and provide an enjoyable distraction from any worries you may be having. Activities such as movie nights, inter-school games (soccer, basketball, table tennis, handball, badminton), excursions/ travels, hiking, cultural events, meet-ups, etc., are good for you.
4. Dive into your studies
Focusing on your academic studies is a great way of dealing with homesickness. It can provide intellectual stimulation, help keep you motivated, and give you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Academic excellence boosts your self-confidence when studying abroad.
5. Keep learning
Whether it’s through classes, extracurricular activities or other outlets, keep learning and exploring your new environment. Learning something new will help you gain a greater understanding of the area, culture and people around you, which can make adapting to a new place much more effortless. You may also want to unleash your bad mood on learning a new skill, such as writing, content creation, video editing, coding, etc.
6. Get out and explore
Seeing the sights in the city or town where you live not only helps you to get used to living in a new place, but also gives you something else to focus on. Going for walks around parks, lakes or other natural areas can be especially beneficial, as nature has proven calming effects.
Try something new. Take this opportunity to explore the area and take part in activities you wouldn’t normally do at home. It can be anything from a language class to an outdoor adventure, but having a positive distraction can help your homesickness feel less overwhelming.
7. Try some relaxation techniques
Doing things like yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, and massage can help reduce stress levels and facilitate dealing with homesickness effectively.
8. Eat well
Eating nutritious meals regularly, and drinking plenty of water, especially warm water, can be of great help. Avoid eating late at night to curtail indigestion. Do less processed food and more fresh foods (vegetables, nuts and healthy cereals). You can speak to your dietician to help you draw a well-balanced diet menu.
9. Limit ‘bad’ habits
While having a glass of wine or indulging in an occasional guilty pleasure might make you feel better in the short term, try not to rely on these things, as they won’t solve homesickness in the long run.
10. Exercise regularly
Studies have shown that physical activity can reduce stress and anxiety, so find a workout routine that works for you and stick with it. You don’t need to go overboard—even going for a brisk walk or jog will help clear your mind and make you feel better about your situation in the long run. Regular exercise not only helps you maintain a healthy lifestyle but also releases endorphins which can help to elevate your mood.
11. Don’t be too hard on yourself
Remember that it is normal to miss home and don’t beat yourself up if you are feeling homesick. Allow yourself time to process your emotions, talk about them with someone you trust and know when it’s time for a break from studying or socialising. Just be true to yourself. Don’t use any superficial remedy. Be realistic in the approach you choose when dealing with homesickness.
12. Reach out to other international students and locals
Chances are you’re not the only one feeling homesick. Connecting with other students who share similar feelings can be a great way of understanding and helping each other in dealing with homesickness.
Make new connections in your host country! One of the best ways to distract yourself from homesickness is by forming genuine friendships with locals who can show you around town – plus they have insider tips on all the hidden gems in the city or country!
13. Make a routine
Routines are a great way of staying grounded and providing structure to your day. They can also help to create a sense of familiarity by making the environment more predictable and familiar.
14. Find something that makes you feel good
Whether it’s listening to music, watching your favourite show or reading a book–find activities that make you feel relaxed and happy, even if it is just for a few minutes each day.
15. Create an atmosphere of home
Make yourself comfortable. Find ways to make this new place feel like home by creating a cozy space that reminds you of home. Whether it’s bringing photos of family members or re-creating favorite recipes from back home, take steps to create a familiar atmosphere within your new surroundings. Doing this will make it easier to adjust psychologically when living away from home, as it will feel more familiar and comfortable.
16. Practice self-care
Don’t forget to take care of yourself! Homesickness can be physically and emotionally draining, so make sure to take some time for restful activities like yoga or journaling. Taking care of yourself will help you stay healthy and balanced while away from home.
17. Embrace new experiences
Being away from home doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself! Take this opportunity to try something completely new; visit places and do activities you never would have back home. Make the most of your time abroad by exploring and taking advantage of all the unique experiences available to you.
18. Journal your feelings
Writing about your experiences can help you to process and understand them better, as well as reduce stress levels. You never know, you can use some of these experiences to write a book or create some short YouTube videos.
19. Set realistic goals
Setting achievable goals for yourself can give you something to work towards, which can make it easier to handle homesickness. Try setting short-term goals such as joining a club or exploring the local area, and longer-term ones, like completing a course or mastering another language, etc.
20. Start new traditions
Even though you may not be able to take part in the same family traditions that you did back home, why not start some of your own? It could be something like cooking a special meal on the weekend or having a movie night with friends.
Homesickness is a very common feeling for international students, especially those away from home for the first time. At the end of the day, homesickness is a natural feeling that everyone experiences at one point or another. It’s important to remember that it’s ok to feel homesick. Dealing with homesickness doesn’t have to be overwhelming! With these tips in mind, international students can successfully navigate their new environments despite feeling homesick. Use the above strategies to create positive experiences that are full of meaningful connections and lasting memories.