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Ask the intern: I want to go home

“Hi Fiona, my name is Isabelle and I’m currently doing an international internship in Madrid. I had an amazing time for my first few weeks. I was going out with friends all the time and exploring the city. We would grab coffee in quirky cafes, or go and try some new tapas, I loved it. Unfortunately, I feel like that has changed a bit. I feel like I’ve lost my excitement for the city and to be honest, I just want to go home. I’ve been spending more time on my own in my room, or trying to call my family and I’m missing out on fun events. I feel almost caught in the middle. I was hoping you may have some advice for how to deal with homesickness if you’re feeling a bit down?” – Isabelle

Hi Isabelle, thanks so much for reaching out to me. I hope I’ll be able to help. The first thing I would say is don’t worry, it’s completely normal. I think everyone who has spent a significant time abroad will agree that there are some days when you just want to go home. Sometimes you crave some normality. Saying this, I promise you that this feeling will pass. The best remedy for feeling blue is to get out there, be proactive and have some fun. Here are my top tips for when you just want to go home.

1. Speak to a friend

Specifically, a friend who is also abroad – someone who will completely understand how you are feeling. Your fellow interns, either at your internship or in your accommodation, will have all felt at some point exactly how you are feeling now. Living abroad isn’t always a walk in the park. Sometimes, all you need is people to understand your situation and to talk it through with you. They will also have their own ways of dealing with feeling blue that they can share with you. I can guarantee that you will feel better after talking about it. You will realize that it’s a completely normal feeling, which will fade away. Soon you’ll be back to loving Madrid and having the time of your life.

2. Make plans

I cannot emphasize this enough. I truly believe that this is the best way to kick any sad feeling. Getting out and about and doing fun activities will distract you and allow you to fall back in love with the city. You will be too busy going out with friends, visiting exciting museums and trying new restaurants to even think about going home.

I talk a lot about a bucket list – a list of everything you want to do and see before you go home. These can be great for keeping yourself busy. There might be an amazing restaurant that you’ve seen online you want to try out, a great exhibition in a gallery or a hike outside the city. Anything at all. You can then decide that you will tick off a few things each week. If you’re feeling really organized, you could draw yourself a calendar and pencil in activities for each day. This “planned fun” may sound a bit lame, but it will pay off when you find that you’ve done everything on your list!

how to deal with homesickness

3. Organize a weekend trip

Sometimes, time outside of the city is exactly what you need. Madrid is an amazing city but there are also some incredible places to visit further afield. This goes for all of the internship destinations. The weekends are the perfect time to gather some friends together and take a trip. It can be as simple as taking a bus to another city. With some of the new transport companies in Europe, traveling can be incredibly cheap. Why not grab a few friends, hop on a cheap bus or train, and explore another area of the country? I can guarantee that you will be able to find a cheap hostel or Airbnb. A fun weekend outside of the city will allow you to reset and refresh. You will come back ready to make the most of the rest of your time.

4. Chat to people back home

With Skype, WhatsApp and all of the other social media applications, it is so easy to talk to people all around the world. At any time of the day you will be able to contact your friends and family. If you’re feeling a little bit homesick, sometimes it’s nice to hear what’s going on back home. I find that 95% of the time, there is absolutely nothing exciting happening. Sometimes it’s easy to think about home through rose-tinted glasses. In reality, most of the time the weather is rubbish (if I do say so myself as a Brit) and everyone is just going about their daily life, wishing they were doing something exciting abroad.

5. Find a hobby you love

Another great way to fill your time and reinvigorate yourself when you’re abroad is finding a new hobby. Or alternatively, getting back into an old hobby. Maybe there was something you loved in high school, a sport, or something creative? Why not find somewhere in your new city where you can do it? This can be a great way to fill your evenings with activities and meet lots of new people. If you didn’t have a hobby back home, don’t fret. Now is the time to try something new and exciting. Why not take a cooking class? Or a salsa class? How about trying a sport for the first time? If you’re rubbish, who cares? Try out the next thing!

how to deal with homesickness

6. Don’t panic

Finally, do not panic. When you’re far from home it’s very easy to stress yourself out. Everything feels more intense when you don’t have that immediate comfort blanket of your usual friends and family. But remember, this is only a short-term experience. The time will fly past. The last thing you want is to look back and wish you had done more. So, get out there, say yes to new adventures, try everything, do everything, and you will have the time of your life. It’s all out there for you to experience.

Now that you know how to deal with homesickness abroad (if it should arise!), apply today for an international internship.


City Paws, by angela.n, CC BY 2.0

2014-10-planner-hinten, by danyeela, CC BY -ND 2.0

JOH_1251, by star5112, CC BY -SA 2.0

Photos and blog by Fiona Johnson

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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!