Valley Overseas: Coping with Homesickness

Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 10.52.40 AMIt’s officially been a month since I arrived in Florence. The first week was pretty laid back – getting to know my roommates and attending orientation was pretty fun. Then came the second week, with the start of classes and a little bit of homesickness.

I recently spoke with a friend who studied abroad last semester. I asked her how she coped with homesickness. Her response: I never got homesick.

I am so lucky to have been granted this amazing opportunity to study abroad. The culture and people are amazing; not to mention the delicious food that comes along with it!

But there is a piece of me that feels something missing – maybe that something is not being able to talk with my family anytime of the day. Maybe that something is seeing pictures of all of my friends together without me. Maybe that something is just missing the American way of life. Maybe that something is… something I don’t know.

I have come up with a list to help you cope with homesickness before you leave for your abroad adventures. For those of you who will be studying abroad, don’t freak out. Homesickness happens to everyone, and I would never trade in this amazing experience for anything. I hope you will look at this to better prepare you with your travels:

Before you leave, you should realize you might not be able to talk to your parents everyday

This is okay, I promise. I used to talk to my parents three times a day back at Penn State. It just goes to show how much more independent you can be if you believe in yourself.

Download Viber/WhatsApp

For those of us who are lucky enough to have iPhones, this may not affect you. However, for those of you with other Smartphones, this may be your savior in communicating with people in the U.S. I have an iPhone, and I downloaded Viber along with having iMessage. As long as I have Internet connection, I can easily get into contact with my family and friends.

Download Skype

Trust me, just do it! There’s a plan on Skype where you can pay a minimal fee and get unlimited calls to the United States. This is hands-down the best decision I ever made before I came to Europe. You can download Skype to your computer and your smartphone. Applications like Viber and WhatsApp only allow you to call people who have those applications on their cell phones. FaceTime only works with other people who have iPhones. However, Skype allows you to call both cell phones and landlines.

Bring your favorite movies/TV shows with you

These will help you in forgetting that you are homesick. For the hour that the show lasts, you feel as if you are a character – you are one of them. This helps in taking your mind off of homesickness.

Before you leave, understand that homesick is inevitable

Whether it be at Penn State or be at a place that is a 16-hour plane ride away, you can’t control homesickness. Understanding this before you depart will better help you cope once the time comes.

I’ll say it again. Studying abroad is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I not only became extremely more independent, but I also became extremely more knowledgeable about the world. However, understanding homesickness before you leave will help you cope with it faster once the time comes.

Arrivederci!

Photos provided by Jennifer Weintraub