This post is a part of our International Voices column, written by international UT students & staff, for UT students & staff. Enjoy!
I’ve been pretty lucky during my time abroad to not experience a great deal of homesickness. I think its due to a few things, but mostly because I’ve been so incredibly busy that I haven’t really had the time to let my mind drift off and think about it. However in saying that, I know that homesickness is completely normal and many students experience it in different ways. When assignments, exams and extra curricular activities take their toll – it can be easy to wish we were back at home, cuddled up in bed with our favorite teddy. But the good thing about homesickness is that it’s not permanent and there are lots of ways to get past it and start feeling positive again.
Firstly, it’s important to understand that you are completely normal. In my opinion, it’s kind of impossible to be happy 100% of the time. So accept that it’s totally fine to feel homesick when things aren’t going so great. Let yourself feel your emotions and get it all out so you can work towards feeling happy again.
Another great way to reduce homesickness is exercise. Exercise has been scientifically proven to release endorphins that make you happier! So why not spend an hour a day going for a run, or working out in the gym? It’s certainly better than sitting in your dorm eating ramen, and you’re going to feel healthier and happier, so it’s a win win.
It’s also important to keep busy. Having a busy schedule allows you to stay motivated and focus on whats important, whether it be school, your job, or your social life. When we have nothing to do, boredom creeps in and makes it easier to think about all the things and people we miss back home. So if you do feel the boredom coming on, it’s time to get out and do something. Need ideas? If you’re a university student, you have an million and one opportunities to get involved in things, so don’t take it for granted. You could join a student organization, go explore the city, or even take up a new hobby you never thought of trying back home. Who knows, you might surprise yourself and discover you really love pottery making? Hey, it doesn’t hurt to try.
Another way to feel less homesick is to plan a trip. Whether it be a weekend away with your friends, or a big trip across the country, planning a holiday is guaranteed to make you excited about life. Travel is one of the best parts about going on exchange and you have the opportunity to experience so many new cultures and lifestyles. My motto on exchange is “YOGOEO” (You only go on exchange once) and although it doesn’t roll off the tongue like I’d hoped, it does make me get out there and have fun . So make the most of it, say yes to everything and don’t neglect any opportunities that come your way. The best part about this, is when you get back home you can look back on all the amazing memories you made from the places you experienced.
So there you have it, my top tips for dealing with homesickness. I really hope this helps throughout your exchange and time away from home. Everyone deals with homesickness in different ways, but just remember that it is temporary and you will get through.