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Ask the intern: 10 steps for dealing with homesickness

“Hi Fiona, I’m from the UK and I’ve just started my international internship in New York. I love the city but sometimes it does feel very far away from home. Do you have any advice on how to deal with homesickness?”– Poppy

Hi Poppy, thanks for getting in touch! Homesickness is something, whether they admit it or not, that almost everyone experiences when they move abroad. We humans are creatures of habit and throwing ourselves head-first into a new environment, although a fantastic experience, can occasionally feel a bit scary. I know I’ve definitely felt it since living in Latin America, but don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world. To hopefully give you a helping hand I’ll share with you my ten top tips on how to deal with homesickness while abroad.

1. Stay busy

The most important piece of advice I could possibly give you is to stay busy. When you’re out and about doing lots of fun and exciting things you won’t even have time to be homesick. This is definitely my go-to tactic. If I’m missing home I try and contact anyone and everyone to arrange exciting after work activities to keep me occupied. Do remember to take this with a slight pinch of salt. Don’t exhaust yourself and remember to allow yourself time to relax and chill out.

2. Make weekend plans

Number two pretty much goes hand in hand with number one. Making weekend plans can be a great way to combat those feelings of homesickness. Throwing yourself into planning a fun excursion is a great distraction. Also, when it’s all organized you have something to look forward to all week and you could even use it as a great way to make new friends by inviting other interns on the program. When you’re looking over New York from the statue of liberty, the last thing you’ll be feeling is wanting to go home.

how to deal with homesickness

3. Create a nice environment at home

One of the great things about The Intern Group is that all of your accommodation is organized for you. This being said, once you have been shown your room, you can start decorating it and making it a homely environment that you can relax in after work. Having a space in which you feel comfortable and at home will help curb any feelings of homesickness. You can even put up photos from back home to make your new room feel like a home away from home.

4. Rose tinted glasses

When you’re miles and miles from home it’s very easy to look back on it with rose tinted glasses. It may seem like a glorious wonderland filled with friends, family and everything you miss. Remember that, although I’m sure your home is wonderful, so is your exciting new city! Home will be there when you get back, so the most important thing for you to do is shift your focus from looking backwards to looking around you at all of the wonderful new experiences at your fingertips.

how to deal with homesickness

5. Socialize

Sometimes the last thing that you want to do when you’re feeling a bit glum is to go out and socialize. My top tip for you is to push through this feeling! Make sure that you get out of your room and go and chat to someone, as tricky as it may seem. Sitting and stewing about how rubbish you feel will only make you feel 10 times worse. Ask someone if they want to grab a coffee, try a new restaurant or even just wander around and explore your new city. Talking to someone about how you feel will help you push past any negative feelings. You can almost guarantee that the other person has felt the exact same way as you at some point. They can probably give you some extra advice on how to deal with homesickness (they may even have better tips than I do).

6. Do some of the things that you do at home

Humans are creatures of habit. If you can find a way to keep some of these habits in your new city, it can be a great way to fend off homesickness. All of the destinations that The Intern Group offer are global cities. If at home you loved to play tennis, go out and find a tennis club. If you loved to cook, why not join a cooking class and learn how to make the signature dish of your new country? Just because you’re in a new city doesn’t mean that you have to leave all of your hobbies at home. Or alternatively, and just as great, try something new! Sports clubs and after work classes can be a great way to stay busy and meet an amazing new circle of people.

dealing with homesickness

7. Call someone from home

Nowadays, the world can feel pretty small. You can get hold of someone on the other side of the world in a matter of minutes. This is great for when you’re feeling like you’re missing home. When you’re feeling a bit sad, skyping, facetiming, or even WhatsApp-calling someone from home can make you feel a thousand times better. Just catching up on all of the normal things can make you feel a lot closer to home. Similarly, telling friends and family about all of the amazing things that you’ve been doing almost reminds you that you’re having a really exciting experience.

8. Exercise

Although sometimes going out and doing some exercise can feel like a horrendous thought, when you could alternatively sit in bed, watch Netflix and veg out, it is a great way to combat homesickness. Exercise can genuinely change the way you feel about a situation. It releases endorphins which make you feel happier and subsequently much more positive. This positive attitude will then oust any feelings of homesickness. A great way to motivate yourself is to sign up to a sports team, gym, or class with a friend, because then it can also be a fun, social activity and you’ll be more likely to get up and go.

dealing with homesickness

9. Remember why you decided to come in the first place

Some days you may wake up and think ‘what the flip am I doing on the other side of the world?’, I know I have occasionally. The best advice I can give you is to think back to why you decided to take this incredible opportunity in the first place. Think about all of the skills you’re learning, people you’re meeting and the amazing new culture you’re experiencing. Sometimes it helps to even write it down. Keeping a journal and writing about all of the great things you’ve been doing can help remind you of what a fantastic opportunity you have.

10. Give yourself time

Finally, give yourself some time to settle in. Finding your feet in a new city can take a while. It can take a few weeks to make a proper routine, group of friends and to fully feel at home. Luckily The Intern Group have lots of measures in place to make sure that you settle in and feel comfortable as quickly as possible. Social events and cultural excursions will help you get to know the city and to make firm friends fast. You will feel completely at home in your new environment in no time!

Get in touch, I love hearing from you! Send any questions, queries or stories about your amazing experiences to [email protected]

Now that you know how to deal with homesickness, apply now for an international internship and the adventure of a lifetime.

Photo 1. based on sad pug , by Hannah k, CC BY 2.0

Photo 2. based on Statue of Liberty , by Sue Waters, CC BY -SA 2.0

Photo 3. based on cheap sunglasses , by Rennett Stowe, CC BY 2.0

Photo 4. based on Tennis Game , by llee_wu, CC BY -ND 2.0

Photo 5. based on MY MORNING JUMP , by whologwhy, CC BY 2.0

Photos and blog by admin

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The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!