Coping with Homesickness

by Kristina Alexanderson

This article was written by Fenella Murtagh, published on 31st January 2014 and has been read 6862 times.

Fenella is studying French and Spanish at Nottingham University, and is spending her year abroad working in Brussels for 3 months, working in Paris for another 3 months, and then heading to Santiago, Chile, to study for 6 months. She has some brilliant tried-and-tested ideas to help you beat the blues on your abroad...

I’m having the year of my life living abroad. I’ve been presented with so many great opportunities and unforgettable experiences that I never would have had if I had not chosen to study languages.

How many people can say they’ve lived in Brussels and Paris and soon to be Chile?! Whilst many of my friends have got their heads stuck in a book, busy revising, getting worried about exams while preparing themselves for graduation, I’m having the time of my life abroad. Ok, I have to work 9-5 everyday - the early starts can be slightly tiresome and I don’t get a lot of time off, however it makes the weekend all the more enjoyable as I really appreciate it. I have no homework to complete in the evenings, no exams to stress about and no need to think about what I’m going to do when I graduate... yet.

My only worry is what I’m going to do or where I’m going to go at the weekend! Undoubtedly this year will be a year to remember.


However it doesn’t mean that I don’t miss home now and again, which is one of the downsides of being abroad. There have been certain times when, despite this amazing opportunity, I have just wanted to go home and see my family. Nothing beats home comforts.

So I thought I’d make a list of some of the things to do in order to combat homesickness which have prevented me from booking a ridiculously priced last-minute Eurostar ticket.

1. Work up a sweat at the gym.

Plug your headphones in, listen to some upbeat tunes and you’ll soon forget you felt homesick. I find that works for me as after I’ve done a bit of exercise I am in a completely different mind-set. Even just a walk outside to clear your head will work wonders.


2. Face time/Skype your family and friends.

They’re the ones who know you best and know how to pick you up when you’re feeling down. Just hearing about what they’ve been up to and some juicy gossip about what’s happening will be enough to put a smile on your face. 

3. Indulge in your favourite shows.

Personally, mine are: Keeping up with the Kardashians, Girls or New Girl. When I’m feeling down I can always rely on an episode of the Kardashians to pick me up and make me laugh. I soon forget I felt homesick at all after I’ve watched all the drama that surrounds their family!

4. Keep the radio on.

If I’m feeling slightly lonely I like to have the radio on to feel like someone else is with me. Just hearing mundane conversations from the sugary sweet voice of the DJ and upbeat music is enough to comfort me

5. Treat yourself to some retail therapy online.

Just having a browse will soon cheer you up!

6. Cook something.

Bake a cake or make some brownies - anything to keep you busy and to distract you from your thoughts.

7. Pamper yourself.

Having a long, luxurious shower to clear your mind as well as putting on a facemask and pampering yourself, whilst lounging around in a fluffy dressing gown does the trick.

8. Reflect on your adventure.

Write down 3 things you’re grateful or things that you are proud of about yourself, for example some of the personal challenges you’ve overcome and achieved that you perhaps would not have done before the year abroad. (I’m a believer in positive thinking, and if you focus your energy on positive thoughts, you’ll soon feel a lot better). When you realise how lucky you are to have this opportunity (as my mum pointed out) you’ll want to stop feeling sorry for yourself and continue making the most of it, as it won’t be long before you're back in lectures at Uni preparing for exams and you’ll wish you were abroad. I’m almost half way through my year abroad and I have never known 6 months to go so quickly!

Homesickness is inevitable, as I have experienced on a few occasions - not many, but there have been a few tears along the way. Since being on my year abroad I’ve learnt to take the ups with the downs and take a step back from my emotions and appreciate how lucky I am to have this experience.

Bon courage!

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