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.
I wanted to share a small trip I went on before Christmas. I had been feeling a bit lost and confused. Sitting exams in another country was stressful and I was simultaneously feeling both proud that I’d got through almost half my time away and scared that it was slipping through my fingers. The threat of snow was also looming ominously so I needed to enjoy autumn while I could. I decided to visit Montreal’s Botanical gardens which are almost an hour away from where I live and are recommended as one of the best places to visit here.
Like everything else in Montreal they were beautifully extravagant but also surprisingly peaceful. It was an intensely Autumnal day and there was something about that that made me feel really nostalgic, it reminded me of walking through paths of fallen leaves back home and the crisp sunny air which has always been my favourite weather. You can never really predict what’s going to make you feel homesick and I didn’t think I’d find it here, amongst these cute statues and carefully curated landscape. But it makes sense, autumn here mirrors autumn back home both the in climate and aesthetics. It was fine that the homesickness hit me here, where it was peaceful and I could walk on my own, I could ground myself, just focus on taking these photos. It gave me some quiet space.
I think this could be said of this first semester in general. I’ve had a space away from much that was familiar, both the bad and the good, and I’ve had a chance to work out what I am without it. I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to sort my mental health a bit and really focus on doing and thinking things I had no time for before. I’ve realised that even the best things in your life can act as day-to-day distractions and while that’s not a bad thing it’s strange to find what you are without them, what suddenly takes priority when there’s none of the usual expectations of you.
I think this is a pretty cool aspect of a year abroad because it’s one you can control, it’s not place or people dependent and most importantly it can help to counter that encroaching feeling of homesickness. Just find your own strange botanical garden away from it all.