Morgan Tucker, a Greenheart Travel Scholarship winner, is currently studying abroad at a high school in Germany. Check out her following insightful tips about getting over homesickness while living overseas!
1. Try not to talk to your friends and family back home everyday. This is probably one of the hardest things, but it helps a lot. Talking to your loved ones makes it difficult to settle in, especially when you tell each other how much you miss one another. It’s obvious that they will miss you and you them. Instead, take the time talking to your host family/new friends.
2. If you are feeling homesick, find something that takes your mind off of it. Overthinking is the worst thing you could do. Sometimes it’s best to talk to someone about your homesickness. Others find solace in physical activity. Personally, I’ve been able to feel better by reading or listening to music. Find something that makes you feel better and do it.
3. Make friends! This is the most important. Of course, you were already planning on making tons of friends by going to your new country, but sometimes it’s harder than you think. They will speak a different language and even if you have studied their language, it will be challenging. But you can’t give up. Find a way to communicate with people. Making friends and integrating into your school and host family is the number one most important thing you must do. Everything gets easier once you’ve got people to talk to and have fun with.
4. Be active. Physical activity is one of the best ways to stay happy. It naturally stimulates endorphins, which is a chemical in your brain that makes you happy. Go on a hike or ride a bike. Try to do something active everyday. But also remember that sometimes, a quiet day to yourself is just as needed.
5. Do not compare your new country to your home country. Almost everything you do will be different. Remember, this is the reason you decided to be an exchange student! You wanted to experience another culture and learn how other people lived. Things are different: neither better nor worse.
6. Remember, everyone is different! In orientation, we were told that most people would get homesick once things started to become routine. In the beginning, everything is new and exciting, so you don’t have time to think about home. For me, it was the complete opposite. In the beginning, I was a mess. I was almost always homesick and couldn’t even talk to my host family about my mom or my dog, Koda, because I missed them too much and would start crying. Once I started school and made friends, homesickness didn’t plague me as much. Of course, there are still days that are hard to get through without having the thought, “I want to go home.” But, I just remember how amazing it is that I’m here, and doing something that not a lot of people will ever get the chance to do.
7. Keep in mind, you are not alone! From time to time, it will feel like you are completely alone and have no one to turn to. Just remember, this could not be any further from the truth. Your host family has been told what to do to help you with your homesickness. If you feel sad, talk to them! Almost every time you do they will be able to help! You can also talk to your local coordinator. That’s exactly what they’re there for.
8. Have fun! As mentioned before, this is an amazing opportunity you’ve been given! Not a lot of people have the chance to travel to a different country and live there. There will be many things that you will do. Enjoy these moments! Take as many pictures as you want! Make sure you don’t take your mistakes too seriously. Learn to laugh at yourself and at your mistakes and move on.
Morgan Tucker is 16 years old and lives in Greenfield, Indiana. Her goal during her study abroad program is to “make friends that I will keep for the rest of my life. I also hope to learn about the Germans, and in turn, learn about my heritage.” Follow Morgan’s adventure in Germany on her blog post updates throughout her program.
Now that you’ve got a great list of ways to help with homesickness, get ready to start your own classes abroad!