“I cannot believe I’m living in Prague” is a thought that crosses my mind constantly. Whether it's feeling like I’m in a fairytale while walking down the streets of Old Town or feeling a sense of excitement whenever I say a word in Czech correctly, the honeymoon feeling truly is real. Nevertheless, there are moments all I want to do is lie down in bed and watch my favorite show. I don’t mean just any bed; I mean my bed back home, cuddle with my dog that is 5,000 miles away and watch TV with commercials I understand. We are all out of our comfort zones and no matter the intensity of your homesickness, we all feel it at some point or another. Therefore, I am here to help. I can’t take the homesickness away, and nothing but going back home can, but I know of ways to make it less prominent or pervasive, and I want to share them with you.
1. Make a permanent home out of your temporary home.
Make your apartment in Prague feel as homey as possible. Just because you know you will be leaving it behind after a few months doesn’t mean it has to feel like that. Print pictures of your loved ones, buy flowers to make the table look prettier, have music playing in the background while you’re home alone. Whatever makes you feel at home and does not take a lot, do it. It is worth it.
2. Eat a true American meal
I know what you’re thinking: where would I get a real American meal in Prague? The answer is not McDonald’s, although eating a McDouble and a McFlurry might actually help. I am talking about the best burger place in Prague -- Sad Man’s Tongue. The burgers taste just like they do back home, and the hot sauce is actually spicy. They have a '50s theme and the workers are very nice. Nothing says America like some old school rock 'n' roll, burgers and a coke.
Have a sugary dessert! I know we are told to eat healthy as much as possible, but a little sugar every once in a while won’t hurt. I know chocolate won’t solve all of your problems, but it can’t hurt.
3. Hang out at places that feel like home
Coco Café and Global Bookstore and Coffee are two of the best places to go. The workers speak English at both coffee shops and these two spots are frequented by many English speakers. Global Bookstore and Café has books in English and the workers will greet you in English as well.
4. FaceTime as many people back home as you can
I know the time difference makes it hard, but if you're feeling homesick, try to FaceTime your loved ones. The people you love will appreciate the effort you put into staying in contact with them, and you will feel less out of the loop.
5. Have a typical American Chill night
Get in your PJs, eat some ice cream and watch your favorite comedy show. Sometimes your mind just needs to relax, and all of the new experiences you are living are fun but can make you feel overwhelmed. Remember it is okay to take a step back and recharge.
6. Plan your days abroad
Keeping a planner and updating it often will help you stay busy and keep you looking forward to things until your time abroad ends. Making a list of all the things you want to do abroad, plan them out in your calendar. Even the little things such as “going to a coffee shop” or “going for a walk by the river” will make you stay busy. Before you know it, time will fly by.
A few no-no’s include:
- Going grocery shopping while you’re sad. The customer service here is not like in America. However, if it makes you feel better, the workers can be rude to everyone, not just Americans.
- Taking too many “Me-Days.” It’s okay to take time for yourself and stay in, but don’t overdo it. That will just give you more time to be sad, and before you know it, the homesickness will start to worsen.
- Isolating yourself from others. This could mean isolating yourself from your friends and family back home or your new friends here. When you’re sad, it’s normal to want to be alone, but sometimes talking about it to others going through the same thing might help.
- Forgetting about the reasons you decided to study abroad in the first place. You don’t want to go back home and regret your time abroad. Sometimes being a tourist in your new city helps remind you of the little things. Experiencing new things, meeting new people and getting out of your comfort zone might’ve been some of the reasons you came to Prague, so don’t let your homesickness stop you from doing so.
I know it’s hard, but homesickness is part of the study abroad experience, too. Most students who have studied abroad go through it, and although it feels like it will not go away, it will. For me, it lasted about two weeks. It’s different for everyone, but understanding that these feelings would pass helped me get through it all.
Samantha Delgado is a CEA Summer 2019 Content Contributor who is studying and interning abroad in Prague, Czech Republic. She is a student at the University of Oklahoma.