Are you feeling homesick while studying abroad? You’re not alone. Homesickness is a common experience for many students embarking on the exciting journey of studying in a new country. It’s completely normal to miss your family, friends, and the familiar comforts of home.

Studying abroad offers a fantastic opportunity to learn, grow, and explore different cultures, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. One of the most significant challenges is coping with the emotional ups and downs that come with being away from home.

Recognising the signs of homesickness and knowing how to address them can make a huge difference in your overall experience.

In this article, we’ll explore practical ways to deal with homesickness, from staying connected with loved ones to immersing yourself in your new environment. With the right strategies, you can overcome homesickness and make the most of your study abroad adventure.

Recognising When You’re Homesick

Common Symptoms of Homesickness

Feeling homesick is more than just a little sadness; it can affect you in many ways. You might notice that you’re feeling down or anxious for no apparent reason. It’s common to experience emotional symptoms like sadness, irritability, or even feeling overwhelmed by simple tasks. You might also constantly think about home and the people you miss.

It also can have physical effects on your body, and homesickness can show up in surprising ways. You might struggle to get enough sleep or, maybe, you’re sleeping much more than usual.

Changes in eating habits are also common, whether that means a lack of appetite or overeating for comfort. Feeling tired all the time, headaches, mental health struggles, and stomach issues can also be signs that you’re dealing with homesickness.

boy is struggling to sleep at night

Homesickness can present itself in a variety of ways – including struggling to sleep at night.

Understanding the Causes of Homesickness

Homesickness often starts with missing family and friends. Being away from your support system can make everyday challenges feel much harder. When you’re in an unfamiliar environment, it’s completely normal to miss the comfort of friendly faces and places, and this longing can sometimes make it hard to focus on enjoying your new surroundings.

Cultural differences can also contribute to homesick feelings. Adjusting to a new way of life, new people, different foods, customs, and even language can be overwhelming. It’s a lot to take in, and it’s only natural to feel out of place. These differences can make you feel disconnected from the people around you, adding to your feelings of loneliness.

Academic pressures can amplify feelings of homesickness. The stress of keeping up with your studies while adapting to a new educational system can be tough. You might feel under more pressure than usual, which makes missing home even more difficult.

Recognising these signs and understanding what’s causing your homesickness is the first step towards feeling better. By acknowledging your feelings, you can find ways to manage them and make the most of your study abroad experience.

How to Overcome Homesickness

Stay Connected with Loved Ones

Social support is one of the best ways to combat homesickness, so be sure to keep in touch with your family and friends back home. Use technology, such as emails and social media, to your advantage.

Schedule regular video calls to see familiar faces and hear comforting voices. Messaging apps can help you share your daily experiences, keeping you close to your loved ones despite the distance. Setting specific times for these calls can give you something to look forward to and help maintain a sense of connection.

The key here is to establish a balance – keep in regular communication with your family and friends, but make sure you also try to get out and explore and meet new people. Finding the balance can help alleviate your homesickness.

staying connected with family and friends via video chat

Use technology to your advantage! A friendly face can provide a lot of comfort, even when it is over the phone.

Find a Hobby

Maybe you already have a hobby back home and, if so, that’s great! Make sure you find ways to integrate hobby into your new life abroad. If not, try out new things that you might not have access to back home.

For example, if you are studying abroad in New York, why not head to a Yankees baseball game? Or, maybe you’re studying in England, why not go and see a Shakespeare play in the Globe?

Maintain a Routine

Staying consistent with your schedule can bring a sense of normality and stability to your life in a new country. Try to maintain some of the routine you had back home, such as morning jogs, reading before bed, or weekly movie nights.

Explore Your New Environment

Learn about and immerse yourself in the local culture, and make the most of your new surroundings. Make sure you take the time to explore your new city or town, visit landmarks, and try local foods.

Exploring a new place can be a great way to take your mind off what you miss from home. One day, your new home might become your familiar surroundings and provide a sense comfort when you need it.

Engaging in local customs and traditions can help you feel more connected to your new home. Join cultural events or festivals to experience the vibrant aspects of your host country. The more you explore and experience, the more you’ll feel at home.

Seek Professional Help if Needed

Sometimes, homesickness can be overwhelming, and it’s okay to ask for help. Most schools have counsellors or advisors who are trained to support students struggling with emotional challenges. Talking to a professional can provide you with strategies to cope and help you feel understood and supported.

Don’t hesitate to access mental health resources offered by your school or local community; they are there to help you succeed and feel your best.

Build a Support Network

Making new friends is an important part of your experience when studying abroad. Join clubs, societies, or sports teams at your school to meet people with similar interests. These groups can provide a sense of belonging and offer opportunities to make new, meaningful connections.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to classmates or dorm mates; they might be feeling the same way and could be looking for friends too. Even those who seem to be coping well with the adjustment could be struggling deep down. So, building a support network can help you feel less isolated and more integrated into your new environment.

friends on a study abroad trip

Making friends in your new place can help you enjoy your experience more.

What Role Does Nostalgia Play in the Experience of Being Homesick?

Nostalgia intensifies homesickness by creating a longing for familiar places and memories. It triggers emotional responses that can make adapting to a new environment challenging. Acknowledging these feelings and staying connected with loved ones can help ease homesickness while studying abroad.

Feeling Homesick While Studying Abroad: Final Thoughts

Feeling homesick while studying abroad is a common experience, but it doesn’t have to overshadow your adventure. By recognising the signs of homesickness and employing effective strategies to cope with it, you can still make your time abroad a rewarding experience.

Remember to stay connected with loved ones, build a support network, maintain familiar routines, explore your new environment, and seek professional help if needed.

Your study abroad journey is an incredible opportunity for personal growth and new experiences. Embrace the challenges as part of your adventure, knowing that each step you take to overcome homesickness brings you closer to making the most of this unique and exciting time in your life.

Keep an open heart and mind, and you’ll find that your new surroundings will soon feel like a second home.