48 hours. I tried to last but there were just too many bugs zapping in my ear and how was I supposed to survive seven nights of sleep outside? Of course, those were the cover ups my ten year old self thought for going home after two nights of sleep-away camp. The real reason? Homesickness!

With this said, my nineteen year-old self was pretty nervous about homesickness before trekking abroad for four months. My wanderlust outweighed my fear of uncertainty and I took the leap and yes, I did experience homesickness. 

Studying abroad is an enriching and growing experience, but like anything else, it has its challenges. One of the most common challenges is a longing for home, family and familiarity. Homesickness can arise because of your not-so-comfy mattress or the lack of family dinners; whatever the reason may be, follow these tips to soothe these uneasy emotions!

  1. Research your city!     

    In many cases, students have never been to their study abroad destination for an extended period of time. Research your new home prior to your arrival. This way, you can avoid unwanted stress associated with unknowingness.

  2. Bring along a treasure that reminds you of your family.   

    Blankets, photo albums and stuffed animals are great to feel more connected to home.

  3. Purchase a phone plan.        

    Whether it be a calling card, an international phone or an international plan; having the ability to communicate with your family and friends at whim is definitely a stress-reliever.

  4. Don’t be too connected.                            

    As you can see from tip number 3, I am definitely a fan of staying in contact with my family. However, it is important to not be too connected. You do not want to find yourself on FaceTime for the majority of your trip!

  5. Bring a candle or perfume that reminds you of home.

    I am packing my favorite vanilla candle for my upcoming trip to Spain to remind me of my house and family!

    TIP: It is always a good idea to pack a battery-operating smoke detector as some apartments do not include the detectors.

  6. Explore!

    Now that you are in your new city, get excited. Visit museums, travel on weekends, eat local cuisine or just stroll around. Whenever I felt homesick, I would leave my apartment to explore the hidden gifts along the cobblestone streets. 

  7. Get involved.

    Joining a club, taking a cooking class or participating in a language tandem are just some examples of activities that will keep your mind full of wonder. 

  8. Exercise.

    Not only is exercise a mood-booster, but a quick run or bike-ride will show you a new perspective of your city.

  9. Bond with your host family.

    If you are living with a host family, spend some extra time getting to know their story. The caring nature of my host mom, Marta, in Argentina helped me feel comfortable on a completely new continent.

  10. Talk with your roommates.

    If you are feeling down, turn to your roommates, friends or classmates. They most likely have experienced similar emotions.

  11. Don’t feel guilty about participating in activities that remind you of home.

    If finding a hamburger-joint or watching The Office reminds you of home, go for it! You do not always have to be all about that Mediterranean food or British TV shows.

  12. Transform your mindset.

    Fernweh: being homesick for places you’ve never been.

  13. Be patient!

    My last and most important tip. Homesickness will subside as you become more comfortable with your new friends, classes and home. Just give it some time! 

In the moment, it is hard to find positives associated with homesickness. I realized just how thankful I am to have people that make me miss home. Experience your time abroad to the fullest so you can bring home and share your memories with the people who mean to most to you! 

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