I have always considered myself an independent person, and consequently assumed that homesickness would never apply to me. I am in Europe traveling the world and (as my mother likes to remind me) taking classes, how could I possibly miss the Drexel shaft? Well, as I have learned the hard way, homesickness inevitably happens to all of us. Perhaps you will find yourself experiencing homesickness in a conventional way like when you see a snap-chat of your friends hanging out without you and instantly feel FOMO , or perhaps it will hit you in a more materialistic way like when you lay down in your uncomfortable bed and suddenly feel guilty for ever complaining about the mattresses in Towers Hall, but If you’re anything like me, it will slowly but surely creep up on you when you are least expecting it.
I am now over a third of the way through my study abroad experience, and thought that surely I had escaped the kiss of death. I woke up on Tuesday and went on a run like any other morning. When I got home, I took a shower and went to make my lunch before getting ready for my Tuesday lecture on Gender, Sexuality, and Inequalities. Randomly enough, I had a strange craving for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. As any Type-A personality would have done, I had already researched if peanut butter (my go-to snack) was popular in the United Kingdom and what brands were most commonly sold. Certainly I was smart enough to pack a jar of Skippy peanut butter in my checked bag for yogurt, apples, and every other delicious peanut butter combination my mind might think of, but why would I pack a jar of grape jelly when I only eat peanut butter and jelly every now and then? Besides, I can barely tell the difference between jelly brands. Using good logic, I decided to save the space in my suitcase and figured that if/when I finally craved PB&J, a quick stop to the grocery store would suffice.
That “quick stop to the grocery store” is exactly where it hit me- my first sign of homesickness. Little did I realize that grape jelly (or jelly in general) is not a product in the United Kingdom, and the closest thing I could get is black current jam, a much thicker and more acidic spread that is produced from the black current berry, a berry that is banned in most parts of the United States due to its high-spreading fungi that corrodes timber. As silly as it sounds, I cried hysterically in the middle of the grocery store after I realized I was out of luck.
So what is the point of my silly little anecdote? The point is we all experience homesickness in different ways, and we inevitably experience it at some point, but that doesn’t mean we can’t control it. If you are feeling upset and missing home sweet home, here are 5 hacks to help alleviate homesickness during your time abroad:
- Avoid social media– opening up a channel to experience FOMO will never help! Try to limit the time you spend on your phone and be more present.
- Schedule times to talk to those you love– it’s okay to want to stay connected with your loved ones back home, but be sure to allot designated times for this so that you are not missing out on the adventures around you!
- Pick up a new hobby– it’s never a bad time to try something new, especially during study abroad! Learn an instrument, visit the library, or join a society at school! Dedicate your time towards self-improvement and discovery instead.
- Travel– The best part of study abroad is the endless travel opportunities (many of which do not require much money at all.) Go see the world- it’s a much better view than sitting in your dorm room, I promise you that!
- Keep a journal– Oftentimes, it may be difficult to recognize when you are feeling homesick, which consequently makes it difficult to solve the issue. Journaling is the perfect way to track both the good and bad days of study abroad, and it’s the best souvenir of all to take home with you at the end of your trip!
At the end of the day, if these tips didn’t do the trick, just remember that it is perfectly normal to experience homesickness. In fact, study abroad isn’t for everyone! No matter what, it is important that you remember you are never alone.