Advice! (hopefully not too pretentious)
After a few weeks on this amazing experience abroad, I began to feel not so amazing. The experience of a “double-abroad” experience (as one of my friends who I confided in coined) was beginning to take a toll on me. Many people on the program went through breakdowns or moments of extreme homesickness. It felt good to know that I wasn’t alone, though it didn’t to know that so many people were not their happiest. I never thought that being homesick would affect my performance socially and academically. But, I found that I had trouble finding any type of motivation, and simply wanted to sleep all the time. We can leave the specifics out of the way. Though incredibly cheesy, the difficult emotions I was feeling did help me realize some things about myself that I hadn’t known before. These realizations have truly been helpful and I hope will continue to be helpful.
Many a conversation with fellow IFSA friend, Lillian, taught me much about experiences abroad and internal emotions. If I were to make a concise list of my conclusions from these conversations in relation to homesickness, here is a list of advice to all you future or current study abroaders:
1. Don’t call home. Though this might sound counter-intuitive, but interacting more with your homeland or those you love may remind you how much you miss it. I realized that I had been Skyping friends and family back in Korea and the states much more than usual and listening to them tell me about home and happenings.
2. Confide in someone from your program. By talking to people, whether you know them well or not, you will form stronger relationships with them. They will feel comfort in knowing that you trust them, and by trusting someone, you will gain confidence in the program. And, the person can help you with your emotions by listening and perhaps even giving advice. Seems like a win-win situation to me.
3. It’s okay not to be okay. Let yourself feel down for a while. Don’t feel more guilty for feeling homesick. I don’t know about you, but after I felt homesick, I felt guilty for feeling homesick and thus became even more depressed. My advice is to allow yourself to feel however you are feeling. That doesn’t mean that you should use your homesickness as an excuse for everything! But know that it is okay to feel homesick.
4. Always be on the lookout for positive energy. Try to surround yourself with positive people and with activities that make you happy. Give yourself motivational pep talks and try try and try again to stay positive!
5. Stay busy! Schedule your days so that you don’t have too much time to think or to let your mind dwell. Make sure that you aren’t physically drained, but don’t pan your days with free time. Even the empty hours plan out with theater shows, cafe talks with friends, or random city walks with friends. Take advantage of wherever you are and stay busy.
So that was my list of advice that I could have learned from the first weeks I was feeling down in Buenos Aires! Feel free to leave additions or doubts in comments.
Yet another blog with love, Soy.