Being homesick is an inevitable part of studying abroad.
Being 28 and having spent extensive amounts of time away from Canada, I have gotten used to this feeling of missing home. That being said, it doesn’t mean I do not experience it anymore. No matter how thrilled I am to be out and about in the world, I still miss home. Back when I previously lived in Melbourne and had been gone from Canada for two years, I spent a whole evening in my room looking at pictures of grain elevators, listening to Gordon Lightfoot and having a little cry because I missed Canada so much.
Homesickness happens no matter how old you are, how long you’ve been gone from home or how excited you are to be abroad.
At this point, I have been in Melbourne for almost three weeks and I am beginning to miss Kelowna and my life there. Now that the initial chaos of setting myself up has died done and I have started school, my brain keeps taking me back to the Okanagan. Luckily for me, I have a great group of friends here and a lot of familiarity around me, so homesickness isn’t hitting me too hard, but it is still there.
This is where my experience of travelling and living abroad comes in handy.
Dealing with homesickness is a matter of making yourself comfortable again. It can seem hard when you are so far from what you know, but it just takes some conscious choices and self-awareness.
Bringing something special with you helps give you a sense of familiarity. When I was packing to come to Australia, I made sure to bring two things from home that are a part of my daily life: my mug and a throw. Both of these items bring me happiness and make me comfortable. Using my mug every morning feels as though I am continuing my routine and my throw literally feels like home.
Engaging with the people around you and making an effort to spend time with others is a great way to combat feelings of homesickness. I’ve been making plans with friends to go out and do things. I’ve gone to gym classes, trivia nights and met up with people for coffee to get myself out experiencing the city. This helps me not feel isolated or alone.
Sending emails, skyping, texting and calling people back home is also beneficial. It keeps you in touch with those you care about, so it doesn’t feel as though you are that far away. It can be hard to coordinate conversations, but touching base every so often helps to keep you connected. Although, this is best done in conjunction with getting to know new people and having new experiences.
Embracing doing things alone is probably the best way to deal with homesickness. And when I say, “doing things alone,” I don’t mean watching Netflix in your room. New places mean there are so many new things to do. You will have all kinds of opportunities to experience different things, but you won’t always have people to do them with. Who cares? This is your adventure. Make sure you get everything you possibly can out of it. Go to a cool movie theatre, go for dinner at an interesting restaurant, spend the day at the beach, wander aimlessly around in a different suburb. Do not wait around for other people to do the things you want.
Most importantly, remember that homesickness doesn’t last forever, even though sometimes it feels like it will. There is nothing wrong with missing home, but don’t let it take away from your incredible experience of living and studying abroad.