Being homesick is something that everyone experiences at some point in their life. It’s completely normal to feel it, and it is a way of coping with your new surroundings. I thought I really understood what it means to feel homesick when I went off to college, but studying abroad has made me really realize how hard it can be to be homesick.
Even before I got on the plane, I was feeling homesick and terrified about what I was getting myself into. Now, being in Italy, I am so happy and grateful, but I still struggle with wanting to see my family, my best friend and my pets, but not being able to.
I have so many beautiful scenes around me, but I still felt like I was missing something. It wasn’t until my psychology professor from my university back home gave me advice that I started being able to cope better with my feelings of loneliness. This is what she advised.
1. Embrace the beauty that surrounds you
When my professor told me this, I was convinced that I had already been doing this. I mean, I was in Italy! How could I not notice the beauty around me? What I realized, after talking to her, was that I was only seeing the beauty around me. I was able to appreciate it, but I was not able to fully embrace everything that came with it.
I left for class early the next morning, which was amazing because it was finally a sunny day in a Florentine winter. Instead of thinking, “I live in such a beautiful place” while rushing to class, I decided to take my time.
I stopped by my favorite caffè, got my favorite chocolate croissant and enjoyed my walk. I got to do some photography, and by the time I got to class, I was already fully awake and in a good mood.
Take time out of your day to find something that you feel looks beautiful. It doesn’t have to be stereotypically beautiful. It can be something that you always pass, but don’t really give yourself the chance to look at and admire.
2. Count your blessings and good fortune
We have so many aspects of our lives that we need to be more grateful for. My professor had my class write down three things we’re grateful every day and why we were thankful for the things we chose. After thinking about what I could put down, I realized that it is often difficult to think of only three things, or people, for which I am grateful.
She also had us write for five minutes at the end of every day about something positive that happened during the day. It was amazing to see how affectively I could change my way of thinking by looking for good things to write about during the day.
3. Make your own treasure hunt
No matter where you are or how long you’ve been there, it is still possible to find places you’ve never been before. Even if you have been everywhere, you can still do this. Find little places that you find interesting, and ask the owners how they started the business and why they got into it.
The people you’re talking to have started their business for a reason. It’s because they have a passion for what it is they’re doing. They are guaranteed to be ecstatic to share the stories behind their passions.
Ask the owners about their favorite places in town. They probably know the city better than you do, so they could give you insight about where the best places are to go. Ask them what they love most in the town. After you find all of this information, not only have you gained insight about a person’s passions, but you have also learned about new places to explore.
Instead of doing a pub crawl, do a caffè and bakery crawl. You can find out which places serve the best coffee, pastry, gelato…whatever it is you like. It’s a great way to learn about a city. Make it your own treasure hunt.
4. Live each second like it is the chance of a lifetime
Being away from your family can be incredibly difficult. I’m not telling you to distract yourself from missing them or to forget about them. If you miss your family, then you miss them for a reason. Most of the time, that reason is because you feel like a piece of you is still back home with them.
They are still going to be there with you. Maybe you can’t see and hug them, but you’ll be able to talk to them whenever you can, and get to see them when you get back.
Going to college, getting a job or studying abroad is the chance of a lifetime. It is an amazing experience to be able to do these things. We are so lucky to have these experiences. They will be challenging at times, but they will do well in the end.
For me, studying abroad has been an amazing experience so far, and I’ve only been here for three weeks. Even though it hasn’t been a long time, I have already been struggling with feelings of homesickness. It’s a scary feeling, but it’s such an amazing experience, and I’m so grateful for every second.
Feeling homesick is completely normal. It’s scary to go to a new place without the amount of support that you’ve had before you left. Even though it’s scary, everything you’re doing is a good thing. It’s helping you grow as a person, and you’re going to be so grateful for your experiences.