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Experiencing Homesickness While Studying Abroad as an International Student

October 28, 2021
by Julia-Luce Mouketo

I always thought of myself as independent and free like the wind. But when I traded my americano for an earl grey, and my brownies for shortbread, little did I think that I would feel homesick. Not homesick for my first home, but rather for my second: Virginia.

Julia on a hike in Roanoke, Virginia in 2019

Caption: Julia on a hike in Roanoke, Virginia in 2019.

I have had a complicated relationship with the idea of "home" for as long as I can remember. It did not start when I left my home country, the Republic of the Congo, to come live in the United States in 2016. It goes back to when I was five or six years old when I went to spend nights, summers, or afternoons, at my uncles' or aunts' houses. I would be happy and enjoy the time with my cousins until I wasn't. Homesickness was a sort of coat that I always had on me. The kind you fold and keep in your bag until you are cold.

At this point, you must be wondering how I have fared for over five years of living in the United States as an immigrant. You may even ask yourself, "What about that homesickness coat?" or "Do you still carry this coat?" The answer to these questions is simple: yes, I still carry the coat. I have been carrying it for years now, and I have been carrying it so much that I have come to forget that I have it in my bag.

Perhaps homesickness gets better with time, or when finding a sense of belonging in one's new environment. Personally, I am convinced that it is like a tattoo. Permanent. It is similar to a chronic disease, of which you can ease the pain using Advil or Tylenol from time to time, thus you just have to find your medication for homesickness

Do you want to know what works for me?

(Note: what works for me might not work for you, however, you won't know unless you try.)

1. Stay Connected

Julia reading Petit Pays (Small Country) by Gaël Faye

Caption: Blogger Julia reading Petit Pays (Small Country) by Gai«l Faye.

When I say to stay connected, I do not mean keeping your T-Mobile plan-although, you might want to-rather, I mean that you must stay connected to your home(s). What acts as a bridge from you to your home(s)? Is it music? Literature? Food? Cinema? News? People? Whatever keeps you connected to your home(s) will help you ease any homesickness you may be feeling. For me, it is literature and music. I read in French, which keeps me connected to my home country, the Republic of Congo, but I also listen to some of my favorite American artists, which keeps me connected to my second home, the US.

2. Create a Home-like Environment


At home, my bed has a built-in bookshelf in the headboard, so I sleep with books right on top of my head. Though I do not have a similar headboard in my flat here in London, I found a way to put many books next to where I lay my head at night to create a home-like environment.

As you prepare to go abroad, you could try packing an item of sentimental value such as a blanket or a decoration item from your room at home.

3. Don't Just Stay in Bed!

Exploring Brighton, England

Caption: Exploring Brighton, England.

Last but not least, don't spend all your free days in bed! Remember that you are having a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You are in a beautiful global city, and you better be exploring it. You might end up feeling at home! If you are intimidated by your global city, reach out to your classmates, your flatmates, or anyone on the CEA CAPA team to go explore with you!

I hope these tiny tips will help you feel a little less homesick. And if they don't, do not hesitate to contact someone on the CEA CAPA Team. They are there to help you.

Julia-Luce Mouketo is the Content Creator - Blogger.
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