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Experiencing homesickness abroad and steps to overcome it

Homesickness affects students in different ways. In Granada, I’ve met students who aren’t suffering the effects of homesickness at all. I have friends who say that they would live in Granada if they could. They never talk about missing their family and friends, and what’s going on at home. 

For the most part, I feel like I’m closer to this than being homesick. I really love living in Granada. The culture, the food, the sights…. What’s not to love? Yes, there have been days where I was homesick and miss my family immensely. One day in particular, when I was sick, I wished that I was in the comfort in my home, with my mom taking care of me. However, for the most part, I don’t really consider myself homesick. I’ve met students on the complete other side of the spectrum, who are suffering from extreme homesickness. Because of missing their family and friends, some have considered leaving Granada mid-semester to go home. While most students don’t actually leave study abroad because of homesickness, every student studying abroad, at one point or another, experiences some bout of homesickness. Here are my steps for overcoming it.
 Loops aka a little reminder of home

  1. Download Whatsapp and Viber on your smartphone before leaving for studying abroad: For those who don’t know, whatsapp and viber are apps that allow free messaging over a wifi network. Whatsapp is even popular in Spain among the locals because texting and data is so expensive here. Viber also gives the opportunity for free calls. No need for calling cards, or spending excessive amounts to call your family at home. Since my mom and I talk and message a lot, these apps have saved a lot of money, time, and frustration. 
  2. Figure out days and times that work for communicating with your family and friends back home: It is absolutely frustrating when you want to tell your friend a story about a trip or tapas bar, and your friend has class or work. Personally, I set up a schedule to talk to my parents and friends before I left the States. I usually talk to my parents every other day for 10 minutes, while I message my friends about once a week.  
  3. Don’t forget the time difference:  My friends have wanted to Skype at 10:00 p.m. EST, which is 4:00 a.m. here. I live with a host family, so obviously this time did not work for me. I didn’t want to wake my roommate, or host family by video chatting with my friends. Also, I’ve had moments where I’ve wanted to send messages while waiting for class to start at 10:00 a.m. Because, 10:00 a.m. here is 4:00 a.m. at home, I obviously didn’t receive responses back until the afternoon. 
  4. That said, don’t spend too much time talking to your family and friends from back home: Don’t let talking to your family and friends inhibit you from hanging out with new friends abroad and discovering new places. In order to overcome homesickness, I feel like it is best to go out and remind yourself about the great food, shopping, and sites that attracted you to your study abroad destination in the first place. 
  5. Keep busy: Attend your classes and go on excursions that are offered. If your friends decide to go to a café or shopping, go! If they don’t make plans, go explore the city you are studying in yourself! There are always new things to see and do when you are in a foreign city. Sitting in your room, wishing you were home, will just make you dwell on the homesickness.
  6. Remember that this is your opportunity to study abroad:You are only living in a foreign city for four or five months. The time will fly by. Personally, I can’t believe that I only have two months left here.
Mia Polizzotto is the Spring 2014 CEA MOJO in Granada, Spain. She is a junior at York College of Pennsylvania. 

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