By Haley Rojek, Illinois Wesleyan University
Many of the concerns I’ve heard from students when discussing study abroad have been about the fear of being away from friends and family for so long. While this is a valid concern, worrying about missing home isn’t a reason to miss out on the experience of a lifetime. So, in an attempt to ease some anxiety about traveling for a whole semester, here are some tips when it comes to dealing with homesickness:
Doing as much as possible throughout every day and getting the most out of your experience abroad keeps your mind off of missing people from home. I’ve found that on my busiest days, I rarely thought of my friends and family because I was focused on the activities at hand.
Since staying busy lessens homesickness, what better way to avoid it than traveling to new places?! Continuously seeing new things and building unique experiences takes up all your time and won’t allow any room for missing home. Even if you don’t want to take extravagant trips every weekend, there are always amazing options for day trips or nearby cities to visit.
We are lucky enough to live in a day and age where technology is very common and aids communication greatly. Anytime I’m missing my parents, siblings, or friends, I know that seeing their face is only as far as the touch of a button. Updating loved ones on what’s happening in your life and hearing about life at home is comforting and makes you feel as though you can be in both places at once.
One of the greatest parts of studying abroad is the ability to meet people from all over the world. I became good friends with SAE students, students from other programs, and even people I met outside of classes during this experience. Making connections with new people can make you feel involved and supported so you don’t have to miss the people from home as much.
Know your schedules!
The difference in time zones can be frustrating, because it complicates when you’re able to talk to friends and family. So, it’s important to learn each other’s time differences and schedules so that you know when you can expect to be able to talk to people at home.
Letters & Postcards!
Nothing beats receiving a letter or care package from a loved one when you’re away, and Barcelona SAE makes it very easy to receive and pick up mail at their office. Parents and friends can send things to the office so you can get a little piece of home. It’s also great to purchase postcards and stamps here in the city and send them home to show people what you’re up to while you’re away; it’s very easy and can be such a meaningful gesture.
Remember where you are!
One of the most important ways to avoid homesickness is to simply remember that you’re in Barcelona! This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and spending the whole trip thinking about loved ones at home is not the best way to make the most of the experience. Everyone will still be at home when you get back, so focus on truly enjoying your time here and before you know it you’ll be getting on a plane to go home, wishing you could stay instead!