Moving to a new place is never easy. Well, it is the first days, maybe weeks. Meeting new people and places, going out to parties and loads of alcohol. But that doesn’t last forever. All of a sudden the constant fun stops; classes, writing, readings, stress… hours in the library or in your room, with your eyes stuck to a computer. In that moment, you start to go out less and, also, stop meeting and seeing people.
That’s the moment when pops to your head the word homesick. Yes, we’ve all heard about it, we also might know someone that has had it, we know that it is a possibility once you’re away from home, but the truth is that we actually never think that we’ll be homesick.
The reality: we’ll all be, and many times.
But it’s not the end of the world, and that’s why I decided to talk about it (even though I’ll sound like a self-help book).
So, let’s stick to the stereotypes and, as a good self-help post, let’s define homesick. According to a paper published in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, homesickness is a “distress and functional impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home and attachment objects such as parents.”
And it makes sense. Back home we all had routines, established friendships, family close, work, favourite places, and so on. We had a life that made us feel comfortable and helped us to survive.
So, when we’re abroad, there’s a moment when you’ll start to feel sad, you won’t want to go out of your room (especially in the dark and rainy winter days, spooky) and all you’ll do is to remember how much you miss home. But the reality is that when we’re homesick we’re not literally missing home, but the comfort and confidence that it made us feel.
And that’s where the trick is.
To be able go through homesick and get out of it triumphant, we have to build a new comfort zone. How you do it? Two simple steps (once again, self-help books… can’t help it):
- Leave home back home: easy to say, not to do (I’m terrible at it). The idea isn’t to build an iron wall between you and your past, but try not to compare food, friends and places. You’re in a new place with new people and experiences. Enjoy it and make the best out of it. In the worst of the cases, join your country or region association (great thing about The University of Edinburgh, it has tons of associations).
- Create traditions: It’s great to have plans and a routines. To know that every two weeks you’ll meet with your flatmates or that once in a week you’ll have a pint of Guinness with your classmates. Make plans for weekends and holidays, and make a close friendship with that people that make you feel comfortable.
Sounds obvious, I know, but is not necessarily easy to do and once you are in the homesick loop, not so easy to remember. Good news is that with these self-help book steps, you’ll be able to overcome homesickness.
Believe me, I’m a former homesick person.