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Overcoming Homesickness While Studying Abroad

By: Mariana Souza

Sometimes it happens. It doesnt matter how youve prepared yourself, you might never be 100% ready for homesickness. Just as any other feeling, there isnt a guide explaining step-by-step how to deal with it, you have to find your way through. The importance of trying to handle homesickness is that it may have an immense effect on your studies and social life.

In Portuguese, the word saudaderefers to truly missing someone or something. Even if you are the type of person that deals fairly well with being distant from your loved ones, at a certain point, you will surely miss some aspects of your old life whether or not you love your new one. Consequently, an agonising feeling of longing for something comes your way. Each person experiences saudade in distinctive ways. Some people have a really difficult time, while others overcome it as quick as they stop looking at old photos.

One thing I suggest avoiding is having high expectations. Prior to moving abroad, everyone daydreams about their trip, and it is completely normal. Nevertheless, life is unpredictable, and even when you have every minor detail planned out, you can get frustrated along the way. That doesnt mean the place itself is bad, or that you wont be satisfied with your experience. Perhaps what you hoped for was far beyond reality; and then home becomes what you want the most.

Furthermore, we tend to compare people, things, situations. So if you think that something back home is better than the one abroad, homesickness will totally strike you. Staying with a host family, for example, is great; but adapting to a family that is not yours, and being subjected to them can be quite difficult. If you ask your host mom if you can go out and she says no, the first thing that will come up to your mind is: if I was home, my mom would let me go. Any little thing can become a big deal.

Since it is inevitable, how can one overcome homesickness? My answer is: it will not last forever. Your time studying abroad will pass faster than you couldve ever imagined. And when it is over and you have to go back home, the game will invert! I believe that the best thing to be done in this kind of situation is finding something that you truly delight in doing and that you cannot do back home. Nowadays, I really miss my long walks around the orange fields to watch the sunset. It was my remedy against saudade.

Before moving to Spain, I had really high expectations and thought that adapting would be easy. But things didnt go as planned. Every little problem I faced opened a huge door for homesickness to enter and overwhelm me. During the first month, all I wanted was to go back home. However, I was determined and decided to make an effort to stay. Being persistent with my goals was what kept me going. The only way to achieve something in life is by setting goals for yourself. So what are your motives to be where you are right now or to go somewhere else?

The key to more happiness and less worries while studying abroad is embracing the place and its culture. Having a positive attitude towards your surroundings. And this can apply to any situation. In the future, only the memories will remain. My advice may seem silly right now, and will probably feel useless whenever you desire to go back home. But it is important to consider that studying abroad is the kind of opportunity that can only have a positively great impact on your personal development. Even if it requires some sacrifices, it is worth it! Dont give up!

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