Take the first step and start conversations with new people. Push yourself to start conversations with people. Celebrate your home by talking about your culture and take the time to learn about their cultures, too. Not only are you adjusting to a new country, but you are also learning how to handle a different academic system. Understanding expectations will reduce your anxiety about school work. Oftentimes, homesickness affects first-generation students specifically.
In the United States, I attend Clemson University, which is about 13 hours away from my home, so I know what it’s like to not see your family for an extended period of time. However, living somewhere with a new language, traditions, and customs is still a new experience. Many students never experience culture shock to any appreciable extent and perform their overseas tasks and manage their relationships just fine. The honeymoon stage typically happens in the beginning of the school year. It’s that feeling of excitement mixed with nervousness that comes with new possibilities. Campus activities, meeting new people and exploring the area may keep one engaged for a while, but then the culture shock sets in. Culture shock isn’t strictly for those traveling long distances.
Since we didn’t have billing information, we had to rely on a host based in the UK to deal with all these matters. The local property manager didn’t respond to our phone calls or texts. Despite the beautiful photos I shared on Facebook and Instagram, we also had to deal with a lot of problems. I still shower in the evening, arrange my wet hair into braids, and wear my softest t-shirts and shorts to bed.
However, it may also invite a sense of feeling a little lost in the world. The student begins to feel more comfortable in the new environment. What was once “threatening” and unknown has become acceptable and familiar. Share your experience to inspire other students.
Invite your coworkers or classmates out for a meal or a drink, or if you’re the culinary type, invite them over for a home-cooked meal. Remember that other foreigners are in the same boat as you, and will almost always be grateful for some new friends and companionship. And locals will usually be excited to show you the ropes of their hometown, so don’t be afraid to ask. You never know who may end up being your new best friend. The best way to combat homesickness and loneliness is to make new friends. A relaxing dinner out with friends and a few glasses of wine is a great way to pick girls in bogota up your spirits while getting a better feel for your new surroundings at the same time. Homesickness is commonly experienced by people who spend time abroad.
Some students might experience homesickness within the first few days or weeks of being abroad, while others might not be hit by homesickness until later on, or closer to the holidays. Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, family events or even family illness or death can all cause you to feel homesick, or make you wish you were at home. Also, many students report increased feelings of homesickness during the winter months when darkness, rainy weather and the cold can lead to feelings of depression. Even though it may be challenging to think about your life back home, it’s crucial not to neglect your relationships with your family and friends.
These kind of frustrations are likely to solve themselves as you become more knowledgeable and competent in the new culture. It can occur soon after arrival or within a few weeks. Not every student feels the same way, however. Jasminemarie Mack, a Howard University junior psychology major and painting minor from Denver, Colorado, has never felt homesick on campus and was incredibly excited to move out.
After establishing a greater familiarity with your new city and a comforting routine with your new home, the natural next step is staying in touch with your roots. The time difference between Italy and the US can make schedules differ greatly, but doing a few simple actions can still maintain meaningful relationships. I have found that setting a certain day to do essential chores such as grocery shopping, laundry, and cleaning has helped my daily life feel more organized and structured. When I was first getting settled, it was overwhelming to remember what I needed to do and when to prioritize my tasks. Now, I am able to wake up and know the things I could do that day to make my week flow more smoothly. Self-care is often emphasized among students, and doing that during a study abroad experience is no exception. It can sound cliche to “focus on self-care,” but it truly works.
Luckily, technology makes it easy to keep in touch with your new friends via email, Skype, Facebook, etc. It may help to seek out and befriend people at home who are from your host country. Although the timing of each person’s adjustment process can be different, there are specific phases that most people go through before they adjust to their new environment. Culture shock can be quite stressful and lead to anxiety. However, it’s possible to overcome it and grow as a result.
During Ash’s time on campus, she made sure to do things that helped alleviate her homesickness, like reaching out to her extended family in the D.C. Area and keeping in contact with her close family back in Alabama. Although staying connected with her extended family helped her feel less alone on campus, she still longed for the personal connection and familiarity she had with her parents and siblings back home. There is no one definitive college experience.
Exploring new hobbies or joining a student club on campus, especially those that encourage socializing and meeting new people, can help you overcome culture shock. Try not to compare yourself to others when learning how to deal with culture shock, especially if they are American or have spent a significant time in the U.S. already.
John, who is currently studying abroad in London, is familiar with leaving the country for extended periods of time. Having already studied in Amsterdam and heading to Japan in just two weeks, her passion for travel is evident, but the lingering feelings of homesickness never seem to fully go away. Even after being in Amsterdam for about four months, John went through bouts of depression for two weeks after she arrived in London. Frustration may be the most difficult stage of culture shock and is probably familiar to anyone who has lived abroad or who travels frequently. At this stage, the fatigue of not understanding gestures, signs and the language sets in and miscommunications may be happening frequently. Small things — losing keys, missing the bus or not being able easily order food in a restaurant — may trigger frustration. And while frustration comes and goes, it’s a natural reaction for people spending extended time in new countries.