It has now been over six weeks since most students studying abroad left home, and for some, homesickness is beginning to hit. Whether you are missing your mother’s home cooking or seeing your friends every day, some form of longing has tainted an otherwise exciting experience in a new country. But do not despair — here are a few tips to help alleviate homesickness.
Keep in contact
The easiest thing you can do to stop homesickness is to stay in touch with your friends and family. The Internet affords you the opportunity to talk to people you miss without putting a dent in your student budget like an international phone call can. Email and social networking sites also allow you to talk to your friends at any time despite time differences.
If you want to hear a loved one’s voice, set up a time to video chat. Again, this will not cost you a dime if it is done via the Internet. Skype, Vooloo and various email websites are useful resources for video chatting. Just make sure you double check the time difference in case you accidentally wake someone up in the middle of the night.
Looking for a creative way to stay in touch? Try good old-fashioned postcards and letters. Purchase some cheap stationery or post cards from your local drugstore and send them to all your friends and relatives. Not only does this give your family some idea of what you are doing while you are studying abroad, it also shows how much you care. Postcards and letters also make for lovely souvenirs.
Make new friends
Although it may be hard for some individuals to form new friendships, remember that you are not the only one living in a foreign country. Everyone around you has probably left his or her home to study abroad, so starting a conversation can be as simple as asking where someone is from.
Reminders of home
Although it may seem immature to bring an old teddy bear or blanket from home, you may be surprised to find how much comfort these mementos can bring you when homesickness sets in. Have your parents send you a little reminder of home, whether it is a favorite stuffed animal or photographs of friends and family.
Immerse yourself in the culture
Do not forget to experience all your city has to offer. Few students have the opportunity to study abroad, so make the most of your time away. Do not spend every waking moment talking to people back home — you may find yourself missing out on once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Instead, set aside a date and time when you can catch up on any news back home. The rest of your energies should be focused on exploring your new dwelling for the next semester or year. Then you will have stories to tell your friends when you return home.
Stephanie Lam is a foreign correspondent. Email her at email@example.com.
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