Before I even began my year abroad, my university constantly brought up the word: homesickness. In a presentation dedicated to preparing for the year, it was about 70% of the information provided. I remember thinking, “pffft, come on, really?!” and “I am fine being away from home at uni, why should doing it abroad be any different?” Fair to say, in enough time, I choked on these words.
Now, I’m not saying you will spend your whole time wishing to be home and regretting your decision, quite the contrary, it has been one of my best uni years so far! But that doesn’t mean the homesick gremlin won’t visit every now and again.
So why is being abroad so different?
As someone who never gets homesick at uni and doesn’t need to visit my family every other weekend, I really didn’t think it would affect me. I keep myself busy, have a great group of friends and am loving my uni experience. This has been exactly the same case in Denmark so why is being abroad different? Honestly, if I had to put it down to anything, it would just be psychological. Knowing there is this greater distance from home can itch on your mind (even if it would take the same amount of time to get home from uni in England and uni in Denmark, crazy!) In addition to this, especially being in a foreign country with a different language and culture, the newness of it all makes you miss the home comforts you took for granted: that homely blanket you couldn’t fit in your suitcase, the constant use of English around you which you can eavesdrop on and Cadbury chocolate. Things I didn’t think I’d ever miss became a necessity (I am craving Cornish Pasties so bad!) You leave some of the best uni pals behind and while you are loving your new time abroad, you can sometimes suffer from the odd FOMO and miss them dearly, despite the fact you’ll be returning 9 months later. I should also mention to all you lady travelers out there, having your time of the month does no favours!
So how do I overcome it?
First and foremost, do NOT spend your time fretting and wishing you were somewhere else. While home might be a short flight away, going home often may increase the homesickness. Of course, don’t avoid home all together though: have a skype sesh with family and friends from home and share all the amazing experiences you have had! At the same time, do not think of how long you will be abroad and countdown to the end of your time. I must admit, I did this a little before Christmas but now going into my last few months, I regret it. A year may seem like forever at the start but before you know it, you’re planning your last few months of adventures and you’ll wish you didn’t have to leave! Make the most of the time you have with such a wonderful opportunity, whether its venting out your travel bug or making new, lifelong friends from across the world. It’s these friends that can help too. By surrounding yourself with people who just want to have a good time, the feeling will wear off. Don’t be afraid to share any worries with your fellow international buddies: everyone is in the same boat after all!
While my advice may seem super obvious and exactly like the kind of thing you will get in a uni presentation, I cannot emphasize it enough! It’s perfectly normal to get homesick once in a while, even if like me, you thought it would never happen. At the end of the day, do what is right for you and how you feel. But like I said, I am now heading into the last 3/4 months of my time here in Denmark and I am no longer homesick in the slightest! Aarhus has become a second home and I’m sure to anyone thinking of doing a year abroad, your new city will be a home away from home too!