You’ve been preparing for this moment for months – so stoked about visiting this foreign country and so excited about the person you will become. After all, you’ve been waiting for this moment for just how long now? You arrive on foreign soil and notice the exotic people, hear a bizarre language you don’t understand, and walk through the city that both confuses and excites you. You finally arrive in what will become your room for the next few months, and then it hits you. WTF am I doing here? I don’t know anybody here. My life was great back home and then I came here and put it on hold. This it totally not what I was expecting. Before you know it, you’re checking out flights back home.
Congratulations! You are officially homesick.
First things first, everyone’s been there. Well, not everyone; it’s important to realize that so many people say they’ll travel, and never do. You actually did it, or well, are doing it, so no matter what happens from here on out, at least you have that.
It’s okay to miss your home country; it’s not okay to dwell on it. Maybe this isn’t the country or culture for you – that’s fine. At least now you know. On the other hand, it’s also important to call yourself out on all these excuses. Have you given this country a chance? Probably no. How many people have you met? Probably not many. Is it your fault? Probably yes.
Would the old you who was booking this trip and paying for it be so happy to hear that you’re now not taking advantage? If you’re going to make it through this experience and enjoy it, it’s time to change your prospective.
1. Remind yourself that you’re doing this for you, that this will give you hundreds of new stories to tell (if you allow it to), and that one day you will be home and people will ask how your trip was and you don’t want to have nothing to say because you spent the entire time being homesick.
2. Go for a walk outside and try noticing everything you’ve never noticed before. Focus more on specific things: the names of restaurants, the way people interact with each other, the designs of the light posts and mailboxes.
3. Make it a point to talk to at least three strangers a day. Most times, you just have to suck up your dignity and ask a random stranger a question that you probably already know the answer to. “How do I get to…?” can lead into “Have you ever been there?” which then leads to “What else should I see?” which then leads to “How long have you lived here?”
4. Get on Tinder and see the possibilities. Even if you’re not looking to date anyone, it can be a great way to meet new people who are also trying to get out and meet new people. You may even find a foreign romance to take some time off of your hands.
5. Learn something new about the neighborhood you’re living in. A quick Google search will do, but also look on WikiTravel or AirBNB Neighborhoods.
6. Post a new photo to Facebook and see all the love that you’re getting for being abroad. Yes, you’re seeking validation, but you’re also homesick. Seeing all the Likes can go a long way.
7. Write down a bucket list, and force yourself to knock off at least 10 bullets that can all be accomplished before you leave the country you’re staying in.
8. Cry in the shower and then realize this is the worst it’ll get, which really isn’t even that bad at all. After your ugly cry, laugh at yourself and tell yourself that you’re crazy. Whatever is happening is how it was meant to happen.
9. Write yourself a FutureMe email during your trip to remember how you were feeling. You can also write yourself a FutureMe email months before your trip to be delivered to your inbox while you’re abroad.
10. Stream your favorite Netflix show, but in a different language to at least reap some benefits from your couch potato session.
11. Search your location on Instagram and see the beautiful shots people are taking around you that you may have missed.
12. Remind yourself not about what you may be missing out on back home, but what all the others are missing out on by not traveling.
13. Really get into something. Photography. Drawing. Something creative, and something that’ll allow you to look back at all the time you’ve spent on it, and think wow, I really did do a lot of stuff here.
14. Go people-watching and realize that everyone has a story and they’ve all been out-of-it at one point, but that that’s life. It will go on and most importantly, it will all be okay.
15. Find the nearest hostel and take part in a pub crawl or city tour. Try bonding with the host, who lives in the city, but if worse comes to worst, you’ll meet people from your home country who will probably think it’s cool you’re traveling/studying in that city. Nothing like a boost of confidence to get you back in the swing of things.
16. Do some of your chores outside of the house. Take your clothes to the laundromat and while you wait, notice the characters who come in and out. Go to a garden and buy a plant for your room. Go out and buy some new cleaning supplies. A clean house equals a clean spirit.
17. Put on a Michael Jackson or Beyonce remix and give yourself a good, hard workout. Sweat the most you’ve ever sweat before. Make yourself feel like 100 bucks.