No Worries Wednesday - Homesickness

paper airplanes
Author: Alissa Ward

No Worries Wednesday is a series where blog contributors speak to a topic which they were worried before they participated in an education abroad experience. Leaving all that you are surrounded by and comfortable with can be challenging or even frightening. This series will hopefully dispel myths and ease worries for students who are considering taking part in exchanges, field schools or other international learning opportunities!

Throughout your exchange you are likely to feel homesick. This may be during your very first week when you can’t seem to navigate from your housing to your campus, or when you get sick for the first time and don’t have someone to make you chicken noodle soup. Follow my steps below as a way to help navigate feelings of homesickness.

 

1. Bring Comforts from Back Home

This may include a book from your favourite author that automatically reconnects you to your home, providing comfort and helping to ease the feeling of homesickness. You could even bring a small photo album filled with photos of your friends, family, pets, etc.,  to flip through when you need to see a smiling and familiar face. Another alternative could even be your favourite tea bags to have each evening.

 

2. Stay Connected

Although time change can prove difficult at times, the availability of messaging apps to video call or send messages through creates ways to communicate with those back home. Continuing to have consistent phone calls with your most important relationships back home can maintain these relationships despite the distance and be able to return home without having to catch up on all that has changed in both of your lives. Try setting up weekly or bi-weekly calls where you set aside an hour out of your day so as not to feel rushed to maintain the relationship when you should be finishing an assignment, or your new friends are hiking a cliff without you. Don’t miss experiences, but also be sure you give the necessary time to the relationships back home that you will have to repair if you don’t.

 

3. Invite Family/Friends to Visit

Just as you do at VIU, your exchange school will have holidays resulting in long weekends and study breaks. For longer education abroad programs such as exchanges, use these designated days to invite your family and friends to visit you if you don’t think you can last the entire exchange without seeing them and make a mini vacation out of it if your academic course load will allow.

 

Homesickness is a real experience that can happen when you least expect it and at any time during your experience. Taking the time to explore your feelings and why you're experiencing this at this time can help alleviate these feelings.

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