How to Deal with Being Homesick When Studying Abroad

by Rebecca Uhlich

Homesickness is the strong wish to be home and to be surrounded by familiar and friendly things. Typical symptoms can be sadness, lack of appetite, or a general feeling of weariness, and the reason is simply the loss of familiarity.

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Knowing how to react in certain situations or how to speak to others gives you a feeling of social security. Going to another country, especially for a study exchange, holds a lot of new challenges: languages difficulties, other education systems, an unknown environment, even different eating habits.

So, how to make the transition smoother?

1. Choose a students’ dorm to any other form of living

For many people, the idea of sharing the kitchen and bathroom with 20 other people is horrible. Of course, comfort is limited – but it’s a way to get in touch with other students. In students’ dorms, there is always somebody you can talk to or invite to have a drink with you.

2. Furnish your new room well

Bring photos of your family and friends with you and fix them on the walls (only if you’re allowed too. Don’t put holes in random walls!). Bring your own bed sheets, books, maybe a clock, a small light, or whatever you need to feel “at home”. Keep in mind you will spend a lot of time in your new accommodation, so you will feel quicker “at home” if it looks good.

3. Prepare a nice evening program for yourself

Bring your favourite books or movies in your mother tongue and use them to avoid boredom. Being alone in your room on the first days can quickly create the feeling of loneliness. But, seeing how hard it is to speak a new language all day long, it can be much more relaxing to have something familiar around you in the evenings – even if it’s an actor speaking.

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4. Discover your new hometown 

Buy a guidebook about the town or region where you’ll have your international study and make a plan with museums and sights you wish to visit. Your study experience abroad is your chance to truly discover another culture and other peoples.

Some of the most popular (and beautiful) countries for Bachelor’s students are:

And don’t forget your camera, to show everything to your family back home!

5. Look for student organisations at your university

All universities have students’ associations, that organise a lot of welcoming events, cultural activities, and parties for international students. This way, you get in touch with openminded students and have the possibility to make friends from all over the world.

Some of the top universities we recommend you check are:

6. Ask your parents to send you a parcel

After the first weeks and having mastered all the first difficulties, it can be very comforting to get something from “home”, like your favourite chocolate or a newspaper.

Ask your parents to prepare a little present and send it to you after a couple of weeks. By the time you’re already enjoying your study exchange, you will be just in the mood for a bit of nostalgia.

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Whatever you do to avoid homesickness, keep in mind that more than 2 million students have already studied abroad and everyone got out of it alive.

Everybody knows that the first few days are pretty hard, but overcoming them is the best thing you can do – for your language skills, your new job chances, for all your future friends from all over the world and for yourself and your self-esteem.

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