What Is Homesickness and Why Do We Have It?
Moving to another state or even abroad for studying can be a very exciting adventure. You feel free, independent and open to absorb completely new information and gain new impressions and experiences. But at the same time you have to leave your family and friends and make the beginning of your new independent grown up life on your own. Dealing with new environment and new people all around you may be quite challenging. Pretty soon a new culture, the time spent alone before you make your first friends in the new place can make you pretty badly homesick, especially if you have left home for the first time.
Homesickness is a quite sad feeling, able to make you depressed, unhappy and frightened to meet new people and situations. You start remembering your sweet home, your loved ones and how much easier, safer and familiar everything is there. But that is the trap that you have to notice in order to not let it keep you from gaining maybe the most memorable experiences of your studying years and making the lifelong friends and even the network of professional acquaintances all over the world, that may be very useful in your future professional life.
So Why Do We Feel Homesick?
Like with everything concerning our feelings the answer is in our heads. Our brains love it when everything is familiar and safe. This way they do not need to spend extra energy on dealing with new distractions and stress that they cause. At the same time when things change drastically, our brains have to create new routines, get used to new conditions, like climate or another time belt, new cultural and mentality environment, which is hard and energy consuming.
And that is where the waves of nostalgia begin to overwhelm your little boat lost in the endless waters of the unknown, making you feel alone and want to come back home to your favorite coffee shops, where you used to hang out with friends and classmates, delicious and well-balanced by your caring mama home food, and carefree days, filled with joy and happiness.
It is normal to miss home and your loved ones, but it is not good, if it grows into a real suffering and depression, when your only desire is to leave everything and come back home as soon as possible. It is that point when you need to stop, gather yourself and take some actions.
Helpful Advises to Coup with Homesickness
Here are some helpful tips you can use in order to sooth yourself if you are feeling desperately homesick.
· New place – new routine
The main problem about leaving familiar places is that with them you leave behind what is normal for you. The idea remains the same: in order to economize energy our brains tend to automate the processes, creating everyday rituals and routines. That is why to become more used to a new place, you need to create your new rituals connected to this place. Start running in the morning in the nearest park or find a little cozy coffee shop and go there to drink delicious latte as frequently as you can, or a grocery shop, where you will buy you food every day.
When you become well-versed in the grocery shop’s prices and assortment, run the same paths and see the same landscapes every morning, and the lady that prepares your latte greets you smiling and asking about your day, you will not feel homesick anymore.
· Socialize and be active
If you are a freshman or an exchange student abroad, you might feel quite lonely at the beginning. In order to form your new social circle, begin to socialize and make friends. Remember, that you are not the only one freshmen or exchange student in the college. Make acquaintances during your orientation days, use your college website, its charts or social network page to find people that share your interests, visit campus events, become a member of a campus council or start volunteering. Be always active and busy and you will have no time for any sort of nostalgia or homesickness. Being occupied with studying and social activities, you will not notice how quickly the semester will be over and you will be able to visit your home.
· Remind yourself why you are here
You need to move on, to build your own life and career, to grow as a person and understand what you are capable of. Remind yourself what is your initial goal that has led you here. Think of what you can gain here that is impossible to gain at home. Basically, try to remind yourself as frequently as you can, what brought you here, and your ambitions will give you additional strength to cope with any problem on your way. Do not forget, that everything worthwhile does not come easy. But the result may be even more rewarding than you expect.
· Stay connected to your loved ones
Of course, making new friends and new routines is important in order to feel more settled and confident, but that does not mean that you have to completely forget about your previous life in order to stop missing it. Right opposite, it is important to stay connected to the people that you love and cherish, sharing with them your new experience and impressions as well as their life events. This will remind you that everything is fine, your life is not a complete mess and you have a reliable home front, that allows you to stay confidently on your feet and move on.
· Talk about your homesickness to others
It is normal to be homesick and there is no shame in it. Do not lock away this feeling deep inside, but try to talk about it. When your roommate or new friends hear about your problem they most likely will help you to get out of it. Your classmates or campus council mates also feel homesick once in a while. Sharing with them the reason of your sadness and downheartedness will help you to feel that you are not alone.
So, do not let your homesickness stop you from the fulfillment of your dreams. Do not give up and remember, that your life is still yours, your family and friends are still there for you when you need them, so you do not need to worry about being completely alone. It is better to concentrate on your goals and channel your energy towards what is really important.