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How did you deal with homesickness while you were living abroad?

The program I've been accepted to for grad school is in a different county from the one I'm living in. I've lived abroad before, but only for a short amount of time. What's it like to live in a new country for over a year? #studyabroad #study-abroad

Thank you comment icon Hey Olivia, first of all, congrats... that's a huge accomplishment. I moved to the US when I was 13 to study for high school and college. I remembered my first year in the U.S. was range of emotions along with ups and downs. It will be challenging in the most amazing way possible. I am thankful that I made the decision to go. I discovered aspects of myself as I grew up in a country other than my home. Making new friends in another country really broadened my perspective about the world. I would really encourage you to find a community to plug in and go explore! And of course the best part of about all of this is the travelling and the food. Best of luck as you make the important decision! Nhan (Nick) Le

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Mario’s Answer

I would recommend using social media and facetime-like apps that can keep you in touch with friends and family.
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Vic’s Answer

Hi Olivia,

Great question! I studied abroad for a semester during my senior year of college. I would say the few things that helped me was setting up a facetime schedule with friends and family, making sure to stay connected over text and even venturing out to get food from my home country (ex: I shipped ranch dressing to Florence). A underrated thing I did also was continuing to celebrate holidays from abroad.
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Desiree’s Answer

There are tons of great suggestions here - and CONGRATS!!!! You must be very proud of your accomplishment.

I lived overseas, 1/2 way across Earth from my home for business for a few years. As others stated, video calls home (which ever tools you use - Facetime, Zoom, Skype, etc!) are a huge help. You can keep up with your friends and family as if you were just across town - see their new hair cuts, share your successful home-cooked meal (or, even funnier, your failed attempt!). There are lots of ways to play games together on-line now, too - of course the multi-player video games, but also more traditional board games. There are on-line trivia games - you can form your own team with friends from home AND from your new location. I think it's important to make sure you keep the connections that are important to you, and mix it up in a fun way. You can cook the same recipe and share a remote dinner - or just share a take-out meal (your dinner time might be your best friend from home's breakfast time!). Watch a movie together starting at the same time and text each other (or a group) via WhatsApp your commentary.

Also, be realistic about when you will be able to travel to see your people again. Of course, global travel has been impacted by COVID, but if you know you will (all things being equal) be home for a specific holiday or at the end of a semester, it will give you something to look forward to. And the inverse -- COVID permitting -- invite friends/family to visit you in your new location! It can be fun to play tour guide and show off all the new places you've discovered as a local! Let them do the typical tourist stuff while you are in class and then take them to your fave coffee shop or off-the-beaten-path cafe when you are done studying.

Consider a blog/vlog/instastory about your time overseas - to allow your friends/family to share your new experiences (and avoid having to retell the same stories over and over!). It can keep you focused on your new experiences, while bringing along your people back home. It also makes a great record for your to reflect back upon when your time overseas ends.

When you pack, depending on your living situation, see what comfort items unique to home you can bring with you - a specific pillow cover, a tea cup (or tea?) that reminds you of your grandma, a mug with a dorky saying from your dad, a sweatshirt your "borrow" from your sibling, and of course, photos you can display (not just on your phone!) -- whatever will make you feel at home. Have the "chef" in your family teach you a family recipe that you can make for yourself when you miss them. Bring any unique spices from home you might not be able to source in your new location. Or pack some of your fave local candy/snack food - in case of emergency homesickness :)

JUMP IN - to the local culture, to meeting your new colleagues, to your new city. One the best parts about studying abroad is expanding your experiences. Finding new favorite things/places/people in your new location will never replace those back home, but will expand your world. Whether they are locals (who can give you all the inside information & tips) or other expats like you (who can relate to your feelings of being displaced and homesick), enjoy getting to know these new people in your life and seeing the world thru them, too. Explore the new location - certainly try all the touristy things, but also find out how the locals spend their time. Join groups/teams that share your interest and be open to seeing how that plays out in a different culture. The more you integrate into the new culture/location, the more fun you'll have -- and the more fascinating tales you'll be able to share with your people back home!

Good luck!

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Obeidat’s Answer

Good afternoon, it will be hard at start but day by day when you start working and be engaged with the family needs, then you will start adjusing with the new country you are in, I been Here in the united states 20 years at start I was homesick and want to go home but I was busy working 2 shift to the matter I stayed 8 years till the first time I went back Home.

work work work, be engaged with what you do day by day you will be okay
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Connor’s Answer

I found that creating strong bonds with friends abroad was the best way to battle feelings of homesickness. Being connected to friends and family at home is good, but sometimes being overconnected was detrimental to my state of mind. Making new friends, traveling, and being open to new experiences were the things that kept me going. It was much easier to feel homesick on the days when boredom and stagnation crept in. Also, having friends and family visit helped to break-up my time abroad and allowed my new friends to connect with old friends/family. I found that this made everything feel a bit closer. The most impactful visits I had were in the second half of my trip, when feelings of homesickness were the strongest.

Connor recommends the following next steps:

Make a plan to keep busy while abroad. Identify new habits you want to enact or habits you would like to continue. Be specific
Make plans for friends or family to visit if possible. Don't be afraid to ask more extended family (aunts/uncles/grandparents.) These were my favorite visitors and made me feel much closer to home!
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Liza’s Answer

Hi - first off, congratulations on your acceptance! That sounds like an amazing opportunity. From my personal study abroad experience, I can admit that homesickness can be tough to deal with at times while abroad, however, there are lots of ways to manage it. It's great that you are already thinking about this and are prepared for when the homesickness hits (because inevitably, it will). I think the 2 biggest things that helped for me were Skype/Facetime and getting involved in my new community. Skyping regularly with friends and family was really helpful when I was missing home, even if it was just a quick update from my sister or old roommates. I think more importantly though, getting involved in the local community helped me the most. Whether it's finding a coffee shop that becomes 'your own' (having a barista know my name/order really did make the city feel more at home), or joining a community group, having these relationships will really help you feel more at home. I joined a fitness community that made me feel more comfortable in the new city by simply looking for free local workout classes. I would think about your interests and do some research on the local community, as well as reach out to your graduate program. Program admissions should be able to connect you with members of local organizations that suit your interests! Get involved, have an open mind, and best of luck!

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