No one is immune from the prodding feeling of homesickness. There isn’t an easy cure in capsule, and some days it will get you down, but these top tips from USA and NUI Galway Ambassador Olivia Hanna might help to keep your homesickness at bay…
Pre-arrival: What do you take for granted?
After my things were put away and I was adjusting to my new surroundings and routine I found myself missing things I never expected I would miss. I took for granted so many things about being with the people I love and the place I call home. I couldn’t have imagined missing lounging around in my living room, eating my mom’s cooking, driving around town, and I especially couldn’t have imagined missing Target as much as I did!
Before you leave home take a while to think about the little things in your daily and weekly routine and be sure to savour those things more than you usually would, and read the rest of the blogs to find out what else you could be missing from home, like different kinds of food.
Download video-chat and messaging apps
Skype and FaceTime make living abroad so much easier. With the touch of a button you can connect to family and friends thousands of miles away. Make sure you download the apps and set up accounts on your phone, tablet, and computer. Exchange this information before you go to make things less confusing when you arrive.
In terms of apps I recommend Skype and Facebook Messenger since they can be accessed by anyone no matter what kind of phone or computer they have. Mac and iPhone users should take advantage of FaceTime because the call quality is much better letting you have a nice call instead of freezing up and yelling, “What?! I can’t see you!” the whole time.
Making time to call home can also be tricky especially if you have a big time difference. Try planning a call a day or two in advance. Spur of the moment calls might have to be cut short and having a set time each day or week might prevent you from making plans and enjoying your time abroad.
Paper and pen might seem like a thing of the past, but getting a handwritten letter makes home feel a little closer. Invest in some nice stationary and use letter writing as a time to connect to the people you’re missing, reflect on your experiences, and release some of your emotions. Slap a stamp on it and wait for a response.
Make a photo album
Like sending letters, having physical copies of pictures and memories makes your distance feel a little shorter. Flipping through an album will inspire both tears and smiles, a combination I’m now all too familiar with. If you want to get fancy make a book for your bedside and print out a copy for loved ones.
Results aren’t guaranteed. Leaving home for so long is hard and feeling homesick isn’t a sign of weakness and it doesn’t mean you’ve made the wrong decision. If and when these tips don’t work let yourself cry, take a bath, phone a friend and think about all of the amazing memories you get to make. Trust me, the experience is worth it.