By Isabelle Lydon, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
It is inevitable that at some point into your year abroad you will experience some form of homesickness. Some of us may experience it more than others depending on how far away from home we are, but I think we all experience it one way or another. Feeling any type of homesickness is perfectly okay. Living in a new country alone is a really daunting experience, especially a non-English speaking country, because you are thrown completely out of your comfort zone. I think we all deserve a pat on the back for how courageous we have been this year (or semester). Whilst I am having the best time on my year abroad in Budapest, I have missed my family and friends a lot. My friends also missed their families and friends also – like I said, it is completely natural. In this post, I am going to tell you some of the things I did to help with the feeling of homesickness.
- Home Comforts!!!
For me, home comforts were essential in getting me through my year abroad. Even the smallest things such as PG tips tea bags so I can have a proper cup of tea made such a difference. If there is a shop in your host country that sells food from your home country, I would definitely recommend checking this out. In Budapest, there is a shop that sells all different types of British ‘snacks’ from Heinz beans to dairy milk chocolate. Also in supermarkets, you can try the ‘international foods’ aisle and you might find stuff there. They are a little on the pricier side, but if it’s for your mental health and for your genuine comfort, I don’t see the harm on splashing out occasionally to make you feel better.
We also frequently make a roast dinner when we’re missing home. This is a really good way to bring you and your friends together because everyone has something to do and you’re all doing it together and then you sit down together and eat a meal.
However, I can completely understand how this is not in everyone’s budget. So, another home comfort I found useful was instead of going out, have a movie night with your friends (or on your own if you prefer). We watched all the Harry Potter films in Semester 1 which I found to be super nostalgic and comforting. So, gather your friends and all your snacks and put on your favourite comfort film and hopefully it will make you feel a bit better.
2. Facetime!!! (Or any other form of video chat)
Thankfully, modern-day technology allows us to see people anywhere in the world with just the click of a few buttons. This is so helpful if you’re feeling homesick because you can facetime any member of your family or friends and it’s like they are in the room with you. I regularly facetime my friends and family when I’m feeling a bit homesick and I miss them, or even just for a catch up. If you’re in a relationship and your partner is at home, or somewhere else in the world, it can be important to assign a regular facetime schedule for when you can both talk to each other. I know my friends in Budapest who have partners who are back home find this useful as communication is key.
Alternatively, if it is feasible, get your family and friends to come visit you! It is a great experience for them as a holiday and they get to explore a new place and it will help you if you’re feeling homesick. My family and friends have come out a few times to Budapest to see me and it was really fun showing them around the city.
3. Putting yourself out there
Personally, I do feel like you need to try and put yourself out there on your year abroad and try meet new people. When you surround yourself with good friends it helps to deal with the homesickness because you are distracted by having fun and meeting new people. Similarly, building these new friendships will enable you to open up and they are probably experiencing the same feelings as you, so it gives you someone to talk to who is in the same position. Try and find out what events your university put on for study abroad students. If you are on an Erasmus program in Europe, I know the ESN or ELB organisations put on a lot of fun events for meeting new people.
Overall, I want to reiterate that it is completely normal to experience homesickness on your study abroad and if you are really struggling then you should reach out to the University for help. I hope that these few tips will help you even if it’s just a little bit.