Author: Sarah Tubbs
Location: Newcastle, Australia
While studying abroad in a foreign and unknown place, being without those who ground you and support you can make things challenging with the feelings of homesickness and missing people creeping in. Before going abroad, I knew that there would be moments of homesickness while I was away. But being a very independent person I didn’t expect it to hit as hard as it did about a month into my program. Things had been going very well. I was enjoying my classes, meeting friendly people, eating great food, and doing pretty fun things almost everyday. But then things took a turn as more challenges were put into my path. Things started to die down as we all got into our normal routines with starting classes. Less things were happening all of the time and there were many days that just involved classes and mundane activities rather than the rapid movement and travel of new adventures that the first weeks contained here in Australia. For me personally, many overwhelming situations came into my path as I started classes.
This all started with being in a class that ended up being way more challenging than I had expected. I needed to change my class schedule, but trying to accomplish this was very difficult. That was since to do this meant having to communicate to people at VU during their summer hours while also being in a completely different time zone. Overall a very overwhelming situation that was also paired with busting my phone, seeing some true colors of new friends I had just made, and missing those whom I love back in the states. It was when hard times hit me while being abroad that homesickness found a way to creep into my mind. Not being able to even contact those whom I missed or be able to travel much off campus because my phone was busted made things even more difficult. I felt stuck, and was upset that I felt stuck simply because I didn’t have my mobile phone.
Pulling yourself out of these negative mindsets can be one of the most difficult things in life. When they are occurring you barely know that it is happening or what to do to help yourself because things can make you feel very hopeless. Asking for help was something I struggled with. I knew I was feeling down and in the gutter, but felt as though I needed to fix everything myself. That’s where I went wrong. After about a week of finding it hard to get out of bed and do things off campus, I finally found the strength to talk to a new friend for help and tell her that I was struggling. She really helped me with a vast amount of things including figuring out public transportation without a mobile phone, knowing what’s happening in the downtown areas, and simply being there to talk and care about me. Talking with her helped me to empower myself to do more things by myself, do more things with new friends, and be confident with the unknown that surrounded me.
Overall, things started to get significantly better once I put myself out there and pushed myself to do more with others. Now this may seem like a very obvious thing, but when you find yourself in moments of loneliness it may not be something so easily seen. Even though the feelings of missing people were still there, they were less frequent and less intense. What I learned is that when homesickness hits while you are abroad, which it will, you simply have to breathe and keep going. Call those you love and care about, but don’t forget to really immerse yourself in the community where you are when abroad. You will meet amazing people if you remain kind and open-minded. These new friends will understand the feelings you are going through more than those back home and you will create a new community and connections for the short time you are abroad. Even though it is a short time, remember to not look at it like there is an end that is slowly approaching you. Simply live in the moment and don’t forget to be grateful for the experience of beautiful growth that is going on within your soul.