From what I’ve experienced, there is not really any way to get around feeling homesick, especially after long periods of time. For me, at times, it was really slight; little things would remind me of home and make me miss it. At other times, I felt like I was drowning. Here are a few tips for dealing with those periods of awful, all-consuming homesickness.
1. Write about it.
This is the most helpful way for coping with homesickness, in my opinion. I have always had a natural love for writing. However, if you don’t think it’s your bag, don’t knock it too early. If you’re having a hard time thinking of what to write about, just start by gluing things in to your notebook: receipts, ticket stubs, brochures, menus. Once you have cemented these little mementos, write around them and talk about that experience.
One night, I had a really hard time at a French grocery store. I saved the receipt, glued it into my notebook, and wrote how everything about the experience was difficult, from finding what I need to paying for my items. I started with how I accidentally bought paper towels instead of toilet paper and makeup remover instead of face wash. I ended up writing for three more pages and worked out my difficulties with the French language. Write poetry in your journal, paint in it, draw diagrams. Get personal and deep if you want to. Don’t feel bad about it, and don’t even try to feel “lame” for keeping a diary.
2. Find ways to connect with people back home.
Over my time in Europe, I mailed out 18 letters and postcards. Everybody loves to receive snail mail and everybody loves a neat postcard that they can stick to their fridge. With each postcard, I felt like I was sending a piece of my pie over to a friend at home.
Sometimes I needed a little bit of home with me over here, too, and that’s when I would call my friends and family. Watch out: sometimes this can make the homesickness worse. My advice is that you shouldn’t use video chats or long-distance calls a crutch and don’t become consumed by what you’re missing out on back home.
It’s easier to stay in touch than you might think.
– I normally called people with Facetime video through my laptop.
– I also paid several times for Skype credits so that I could call my friends long distance – this was worth it. It was $5 per credit, and each credit lasted me about a month.
– I also used Whatsapp to send messages to my friends internationally.
3. Keep yourself busy and make new friends.
The most crucial piece of advice I can give to someone suffering from homesickness is to keep the mind occupied. Always be busy. When you’re alone you can write, you can read your favorite book, work on personal projects. Go outside. Look at something beautiful.
If your situation is longterm, I recommend reaching out to people and making friends. I made quite a few friends during my time overseas and I am so grateful for each of them. This is because when I was spending time with other people, my mind was focused and I wasn’t ruminating over my homesickness. Being alone can be a blessing, but at times it can be a curse. I never felt nearly as homesick when I was alone than when I was surrounded by friends.