March 28, 2014, by International students

Homesickness! How will you handle it?

Dear reader, the excitement and enthusiasm of planning a trip abroad includes the usual packing, perusing guidebooks, surfing Google Maps and practicing the language, but scarcely a second thought on how to deal with homesickness. Unfortunately for me, none of the guidebooks I read before I came to Nottingham gave advice about dealing with homesickness, not even a clue. As we get excited over photographs and stories about our destination, it doesn’t seem as though we will miss the faces we grow up with or the ‘hood we came from.

Being away from home brings memorable and wonderful experiences. However, don’t be disappointed in yourself if you feel down or you long for home after a few days. Many people around you may have embraced their new surroundings more quickly, but that doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you. In fact, many who may look like perfect travelers also feel homesick. It affects everyone at one point or  another. Remembering moments like evening dinners with family members, games with your siblings, storytelling by grandma, and even a scolding from Dad, trigger a mad rush of homesickness.

Having fun at the Scholarship celebration event

Having fun at the scholarship celebration event

There is hope though for homesickness. I handled mine successfully. The following tips will help you:

1.           Prepare for it: Keep in mind that the very first night away might be particularly stressful. Just try to fight through it by putting the future in mind. Coping with homesickness becomes easier if you bring some of your favorite things with you. You may take along pictures of your family and loved ones or something that smells like home, such as your favourite pillow or blanket; things that will make you feel at home.

2.           Expect it: For me, it helped when I realized that the way I was feeling was normal. Funnily enough, nervousness outshined my initial excitement during the first two days of my arrival which were marked with seeing new faces and finding my way in a starkly different climate to the one I have always lived in. Trying strange foods further complicated issues for me. Nevertheless, I knew it is a normal phenomenon so I maintained a positive attitude and started creating coping strategies.

3.           Fight it: Making new friends, whether they are British or fellow international students, is the easiest way to love your new location. Do not spend all of your time missing your old friends or dwelling on old times. Be extra friendly, be brave and ask someone to grab a cup of coffee with you. You may find that you have a lot more to talk about than you think. Do not be left in the lurch!

4.           Beat it: Try to immerse yourself in some way within the community. Enjoy the unique aspects of your new environment, learn the language or local expressions, join a new sport club or society, try new foods, and even try learning some British fashion tips.

5.           Trash it: Fill your days with exciting activities. Study and spend time with new people and take in your new environment – its scenic beauty, architecture, history and surrounding cities and areas of countryside. Fill your time and it will be hard to spend even a second thinking of home. Besides, getting immersed in something new can help you find your passion

6.           Talk about it: It can be soothing to hear from the people you love. You should set out time to make phone calls or Skype your loved ones. You can also send emails or text messages to catch up.

Me playing pool with new friends

Playing pool with new friends

Finally, the worst thing you can do is to wallow. You are half way out of homesickness by getting out of the house.

Anthony Olatunji Akerele, Nutritional Sciences masters student from Nigeria.

Posted in Cultural integrationFriendsSocieties