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What to Know Before Studying Abroad: Positive Ways to Cope with Homesickness

As a college student with two years of independent living under my belt, I was always proud of the fact that I never suffered too much from homesickness like some of my peers had. I relished being away from home and the newfound freedom that college offered. However, almost a month has passed since I’ve arrived in Paris and I can’t say that fact has remained true. Though experiencing homesickness is hardly a cakewalk, I’ve found that keeping an open mind, being patient and seeking positive ways of coping is the best remedy. Here are some things to remember before studying abroad.

Get Involved

 Sign up for activities, meet new people
and explore your new home!

The first thing that students are told when entering college is to join activities and get involved. This still applies even when you’re thousands of miles away from home, since feelings of isolation, sadness and stress manifest themselves more intensely in a foreign country. I didn’t realise how important this was until last weekend, when I finally got around to joining “Club International,” an organisation that coordinates meetups for young people in Paris. I also signed up for yoga classes in Paris in order to exercise in a group setting and meet new people with similar interestx.

Don’t Stop Exercising

 Lace up your shoes, load up a new
playlist and hit the trails.

One of the reasons why I haven’t spontaneously combusted from stress yet is because I discovered the therapeutic effects of exercising at the end of my freshman year. Now entering my third year of college, any sort of cardio that raises my heart rate and helps me get my mind off of work is a lifesaver. The first chance that I got after moving into my apartment, I laced up my running shoes and hit the running trail. I felt instantly better while closing my eyes and feeling the wind against my face just like at home.

Treat Yourself Well

 Keep a journal!

While immersing yourself in activities and staying busy is a good distraction, it also doesn't hurt to take some time to reflect and recuperate. Do whatever you need to do in order to feel more comfortable, whether that’s video chatting with your parents, writing in a journal, emailing your best friend or eating your favourite meal from back home. Allowing yourself to miss home is healthier than repressing feelings and feeling worse after the fact. Just make sure to keep this to a minimum, because there is a difference between positive coping and negative moping.

Bring Souvenirs From Home

 A good book and my favorite bed sheets.

On top of all the carefully selected clothing that goes into your suitcase, make sure to bring a couple sentimental items that will make your new home feel more like your home. For me, I brought my linens and one of my favourite books to combat the feelings of homesickness. Though minimal, these few items have made a world of difference in my process of adapting to a new environment. Of course, make sure to limit it to a few choice items in order to keep your suitcase light and make room for souvenirs on the way home.

Kristine Xu is the Fall 2015 CEA MOJO Blogger in Paris, France. She is currently a Junior at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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