How to shake the homesick blues while living abroad
Living and interning abroad is a unique and exciting experience, but there are a few downsides. Homesickness is among them. It’s an annoying little bug that can creep up on you and bite you hard when you least expect it. Never fear! There is more than one cure for the homesick blues.
How to beat homesickness
Cure #1: Talk to your family
This is best done on Skype and while you’re cuddled up in your room, wrapped in a blanket. You could even plan eating a meal together with your family, if the time difference isn’t too bad. You’ll get a sense of being together at the dinner table with mom and dad, even if you’re thousands of miles away. I also recommend creating a family WhatsApp or Facebook group so everyone can contribute messages about their day, keeping the family on the same page.
Cure #2. Eat comfort food from home
Food has a powerful effect on our emotions and is one of the most important elements of any culture. Cook one of the dishes your mom and dad always made for you back home and you’ll get a literal taste of home.
Cure #3. Listen to your hometown radio station
Thanks to online streaming and smartphone apps, there are lots of ways to listen to radio stations from back home using the internet. Listening to a station from your home city will trick your brain into feeling like you’re back home, listening to the local traffic report, breaking news and local music.
Cure #4. Go to a pet store
Find a furry friend to help distract you from your homesick feelings. Or find a friend who is willing to let you play with their pets. Kittens and puppies have special healing powers.
Cure #5. Go out with a friend who feels the same way
Bonding over mutual feelings of homesickness will connect you to another person abroad, forming a special bond. It’s good to have people who can relate to your feelings of homesickness, even if you’re from different places. You can talk about the people and things you miss, feel sorry for yourselves for a moment, then make plans for what exciting thing you’re going to do next.
Cure #5. Go for a run
Exercising or going for a long run will produce happy-making endorphins that are sure to boost your mood if you’re blue. Sometimes it just takes a little physical activity to get past feelings of anxiety.
Cure #6. Distract yourself
Plan an exciting day exploring the city or organize a day trip with some of your friends to distract yourself from feelings of homesickness. You’ll be having so much fun planning and exploring you’ll forget what you’re missing back home.
Cure #7. Write about it
Another strategy is to use the pen, or you’re laptop, to work through the homesickness. One effective writing exercise is to make a list of reasons why you’re exactly where you need to be, even though you’re homesick. For example, “I’m homesick and wish I was home, but I’m exactly where I need to be because… I am earning professional experience, I am getting to know a new culture, I’m improving my Spanish, etc.” It will help you reframe your situation.