How To Defeat Homesickness While Studying Abroad

Written by Drew November 24, 2015

The Belgium crew.

The streets of Belgium.

Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula.

Manneken Pis - Belgium's most famous monument.

Jeanneke Pis - considered the sister of Manneken Pis.

So it finally happened.

After an entire two months of being abroad, it finally hit me: I was homesick. It almost came out of nowhere. All of a sudden, I was missing my friends, my family, and living in my favorite city in the world, Iowa City. 

It wasn’t until I snapped out of this funk that I realized exactly how I was defeating homesickness up to that point.

Before getting more into that subject, I’ll commence my weekly update of my life abroad.

A lot of my weekend was spent receiving updates about the Paris attacks. It’s crazy to ponder the fact that I was in the city days before the attacks occurred. Luckily, no one in our study abroad group traveled to Paris during the weekend, and everyone is safe. 

This weekend was spent in Brussels, Belgium. Of course, we were under the impression that Brussels would be a safe location to travel to. Well, you know, we were wrong. Several fleeing terrorists were captured in Brussels just a few blocks from our location. It was a scary realization with that instance occurring, but I’m glad to say we completed the trip safely. 

As for Brussels, the city was beautiful. The majority of trip was spend consuming Belgian waffles and sipping Belgian beer – both absolutely phenomenal. We also decided to pull an all-nighter and not book a hostel for the evening, which turned out to be quite the experience. All and all, the weekend in Brussels was very solid, and I’m happy I got the opportunity to visit the city of my ancestors.

Moving back into the subject of this post, how was I able to defeat homesickness up to that point? It was pretty simple, actually.

I was so busy that I didn’t allow myself the chance to become homesick.

My study abroad program (CIMBA) does a great job of keeping their students busy. Throughout the program, I’ve involved myself with numerous activities outside of taking classes. On top of all of these activities and classes, attempting to plan my various travel destinations was also taking up a good deal of my time.

So my simple tactic to fight homesickness: Stay busy.

If you are involving yourself as much as possible in your study abroad program as well as your classes, you’re not going to allow your mind to think about being homesick. Once you allow yourself to have an excessive amount of free time, that’s when your mind starts to wander and you could potentially get homesick.

Now, if you are to get homesick, just realize it’s completely natural and okay to feel that way. Studying abroad is more than likely the first time you are away from you friends, family, and hometown for an extended period of time.

So what can you do if homesickness strikes? Seek out your friends, family, or someone in your study abroad program. Those people know you best and will know exactly how to get you out of your funk. I guarantee it.

To wrap up this post, homesickness is a common occurrence amongst study abroad students. As it’s more than likely your first time away from home for an extended amount of time, it’s normal to experience homesickness. If you experience homesickness, don’t be afraid to ask for a little pick-me-up from friends, family, or someone in your study abroad program. And, most importantly, don’t forget to stay busy.