Moving abroad to study is one of the most exciting things you can do while a student. Being in a new country, meeting new people and experiencing new cultures and traditions is an exhilarating experience.
Of course, even the hardiest of students will struggle to avoid bouts of homesickness at some point during their time overseas. It's a completely normal part of studying abroad, and something nearly all international students will feel at some point.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as the saying goes, and often you don't realise how strong the pull of your home country actually is until you move thousands of miles away.
If handled the right way, missing home can be overcome, allowing you to get on with your new life abroad. Here are Only Student Concierge's top tips for overcoming feelings of homesickness.
1. Plan before you go. Studying abroad is not a decision you make lightly, or quickly. Most likely it is something you will discuss with your parents, lecturers, friends and extended family before taking the plunge. This means you will usually have plenty time to prepare for your trip. Use this time wisely to gather pictures, mementoes and keepsakes which remind you of loved ones and your hometown. These items may appear to be little more than trinkets to others, but when feelings of homesickness take over they will help you remember happy times.
2. Stay in touch. In my last blog I wrote about how easy it is to connect with loved ones back home. The Internet has opened up a whole host of new communication channels and in doing so has made the world a much smaller place. Arranging regular Skype calls and making time to send emails, share pictures and even chat to family and friends via applications such as Viber means your nearest and dearest are only a click away.
3. Get connected. Nothing cures homesickness like having the time of your life. Immerse yourself in your new country and make new friends. Joining university clubs and organisations will give you a healthy network of new chums in no time at all. It's also worth looking out for freshers' events, which most universities run at the start of term. These sessions will allow you to connect with others in the same position as you. In no time at all, you will be having such a good time you won't even be thinking about home.
4. Discover your new surroundings. When in a new country there is no point in sitting in-doors feeling sorry for yourself. Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity and you need to grab it with both hands. Get out and about and find out exactly what is so special about your new location. Explore its historical sites, visit places of interest and immerse yourself in new cultures. Studying overseas is a massive privilege so make the most of the experience while you can.
5. Blog about your experiences. Keeping a diary or blog of your travels will not only help you express your emotions but will also serve as a lasting memory of your time abroad. Blogging is a great way to vent your frustrations as well as to celebrate the exciting adventures you will have during your time away. Others back home will also enjoy reading about your experiences and will be able to offer support when you are feeling low.
Follow Elspeth Brown on Twitter: www.twitter.com/elspethbrown