Defeating Homesickness While Studying Abroad
Your London adventure is starting, so why don’t you feel excited? It’s natural to feel nervous and homesick before the trip and during your first few days, but we want you to have the smoothest adjustment possible. Here are some ways to make London feel more like home and to start making happy memories.
Before the Trip
While you are packing, think about what small reminders of home you can bring to make you more at ease at Queen Mary. What things were you happy to have had or did you wish you had brought when you moved into Xavier as a freshman? Your favorite afternoon snack? The stuffed animal you’ve had since you were eight? Your softest pajamas? Definitely consider bringing these items! Also think about the hobbies you might want to carry over to London to keep busy, which will help keep you focused on things you know and enjoy. Runners might want to bring shoes so they can jog by the canal, bibliophiles might want to plan a tour of book stores or coffee shops, and artists might want to visit the top museums and galleries in the city. Not only will having some plans before the trip help increase your mood because you’ll be doing something you love, but you will likely find other program participants who are interested in going with you to these places. You can follow our Pinterest boards for classic London options and Facebook page for current events and activities.
Another way to prep for the trip is to think about what you want your dorm to feel like. Your room has a bulletin board where you can thumbtack photos of your friends, family, or pets, and there are plenty of bookshelves to fill with personal belongings. We are providing cooking tools to all the flats, so you may want to get the recipes for your favorite meals or to visit Sainsbury’s American section of their foreign food aisle. You can also check if your local radio station is available online, so you can keep up with the news and hear familiar voices.
During the Trip
Even if you are excited and prepared for London, the combination of jet lag, lack of sleep, and being in a new culture can be enough to cause homesickness. The best thing you can do is to stay busy. Even if you feel sad and just want to call your family, go out with your flatmates, see a movie, or do your readings, because when you are focused on doing fun things you’ll be distracted from longing for the States. In fact, we caution against being in constant communication with your family if you are feeling homesick. While it’s instinctive to want to talk to them to boost your mood, constantly texting them or having hours long FaceTime sessions will keep you from making new friends and experiencing the city. Consider a video call or email once a day until you’ve integrated into London life.
It also might help to remember how much you and/or your family have invested in this program. Sometimes you have to fake it until you make it, but we promise you’ll look back on the trip fondly.
If after the first week you are still feeling homesick, feel free to reach out to Drs. Fiorelli, Renzi, or Gotlieb. They can tell you interesting things to get you out and about, help you find classmates who have similar interests, and will remind you that by the second week, most students have found their groove, and by the end of the trip people who started out missing home don’t want to leave London.
Homesickness is nothing to be ashamed of, but there are some things you can do to decrease how much you experience. Bring some things to make your dorm seem more familiar, try your hardest to make friends and go on excursions, and know that in a couple of days you’ll be adjusted to your new surroundings and reporting back wonderful stories to your friends and family.