One of the many benefits we have at NYU is the incredible opportunity to study abroad. For most of us, when we receive our acceptance notifications or board the plane to our homes for the next four months, all we can think about is how excited we are and how much fun we will have. While this is the best mindset to have, it also means that sometimes we don’t consider any obstacles until we’re already facing them with no idea what to do.
This is my second semester studying abroad, and one of the problems I still face during the first few weeks is the feeling of homesickness. It’s not a fun feeling, and it’s also not one that is easy to get rid of, especially when it seems like everyone else is having the time of their life. Although I do still get homesick, I’d like to think that I’ve gotten better at dealing with it, so here are my top 5 tips for easing that uncomfortable feeling.
2. Find your safe space. Maybe it’s a cafe you really like, a study spot you can always concentrate in, or just your room. Find a place in which you feel comfortable, and use it whenever you need a bit of peace or to calm your thoughts. Use it as a way to get out of your head and anchor yourself to where you are. For me, there’s a restaurant/coworking space on campus that I like going to. On the weekends, it turns into the campus cafeteria since the normal one is closed, but during the week, it’s generally pretty empty and is a great place to go to study or just relax. I like to sit by the window and look out at the greenery if I need a break.
4. Remind yourself why you chose to study abroad. Remember that initial feeling of excitement you had? Channel that energy and think about what pushed you to apply for a semester abroad. Was it a new culture you wanted to learn more about? Was it the idea of traveling to a different country every weekend? Was it a specific class you were really interested in? Make a list of what you want to accomplish while you’re abroad and start working your way through it. Make plans ahead of time so that you can save money and have something to look forward to.
5. Be okay with not being okay. It is perfectly normal to be homesick, regardless of if it’s your first or fiftieth time away from home. The feelings that you have are completely valid, and it’s easier to accept that than to try and force them away. Do things at your own pace and don’t feel pressured to do something just because everyone else is. You should definitely try to step out of your comfort zone, but if you only agreed to something because people told you to and if you’re dreading it during the time leading up to it, maybe that’s a sign that it might not be the best thing for you to do. Remember that everyone is having the same experience of being in a new place, and everyone deals with it in different ways. Regardless of how much fun others may look like they’re having, your decisions are yours to make and only you know what the best choices are for yourself.
As you learn to navigate your study abroad experience, also keep in mind that you have a network of loved ones that you can fall back on. The beauty of the digital age is that we can connect with whoever we want whenever we want, regardless of where in the world they are. Don’t forget to check in with family and friends to let them know how you’re doing and remember that they are there to support you every step of the way.