|The famed Double Helix Staircase in the Vatican.|
Before even coming to Spain, I prepared myself for the homesickness and culture shock everyone assured me would strike at some point during my first weeks in Granada. I told myself that if I expected those feelings, they would be easier to manage. As the weeks went by, however, I became more and more comfortable in my new city and absolutely enamored by the Spanish culture. I had met amazing new friends, was continually seeing improvements in my Spanish, and was busy traveling and exploring new cities. Sure, I had days when I missed home more than usual, but that wave of homesickness for which I had prepared myself never came. That was my first semester experience.
| Some peace and quiet beside the Mediterranean
Sea in the towns of Cinque Terre, Italy.
| Coffee breaks with friends are the
perfect mid-afternoon treat!
My second semester experience has been quite different. Equally amazing, filled with incredible adventures, old and new friends, and tons of progress with my Spanish, but definitely much harder. Even though the CEA onsite staff told me from the beginning that the transition from first to second semester would be difficult, I didn’t anticipate that the strong homesickness I had expected during the first semester would instead strike in the middle of February.
| The Roman Forum in Rome, Italy. For someone that loves
history, this was such an exciting place to visit!
Thankfully, it is possible to completely thrive (not just survive) in the midst of homesickness. If you’re feeling a bit blue in your time abroad, here are some of the things I’ve found helpful:
- Prioritize your relationships
- In my experience, homesickness is longing for my family and the familiarity of home. I’ve learned that spending extra time with my friends here, eating meals together, going to cafés to merendar, taking a walk, etc., helps give me that “familial” feeling I was missing.
- You’re in Europe. There are things you want to see. Let the excitement of trip planning push that homesickness straight out of your mind! It’s much harder to dwell on what’s at home when you’re standing in the middle of the Vatican or strolling through the streets of Madrid.
- Take care of you.
- This seems obvious, but I think it’s actually the easiest to forget. Find the little things that brighten your day or relax you, and then sprinkle them throughout the week. For me, that means regularly going to the gym and painting my fingernails. For some of my friends, things like going to a familiar café to read, journaling, or treating yourself to a specific pastry have all been go-to solutions.
|The Trevi Fountain, even more beautiful in person.|
| Nothing is quite as refreshing and
exciting as exploring a new city!
This article, I realize, is more serious than those we normally write, but it’s important to acknowledge both the good and the not-so-good parts of a study abroad experience. I speak from the perspective an academic-year student, but many of my friends have gone through the same feelings in the span of a semester. Everyone has a different experience! It’s inevitable that you’ll feel homesick at some point, but the important thing is to remember those feelings are natural and that those feelings don’t have to taint your time abroad.
Megan V. is the Spring 2018 CEA MOJO Blogger in Granada, Spain. She is currently a Junior studying Political Science & Spanish at the University of Tennessee.
Megan Vande Linde is the Fall 2017, Spring 2018 CEA MOJO Blogger in Granada, Spain, and is currently studying at University of Tennessee.