One of the biggest concerns about studying abroad is homesickness, and rightfully so. Studying abroad almost allows a student a pause on their life at home. It can be a dream to take a break from their traditional course load to explore different cultures in the world. However, it also means spending some time away from friends and family and missing a holiday or two.
Ryan Evaul (‘19) is studying abroad in Florence, Italy and shared his experience so far. “The first three weeks were rough. . . Yeah, I try not to think about it, because I do get sad. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to avoid it.”
For Evaul, it’s comfort food that’s gotten him down the most. “The thing that got me most homesick has definitely been food shopping. I broke down crying in the grocery store the second week I was here, because my phone was out of battery and I couldn’t google translate anything, so I didn’t know what any of the foods I was looking at were.”
Even though people will push students to fully immerse themselves in the culture, Evaul shared his need to find his comfort in Italy. “Another thing that makes me feel at home in Florence is definitely McDonalds or the diner. The diner is this American food restaurant where all the waiters speak English and they have American foods like pancakes and BLTs and anything in between.”
Becky Martone (‘18) studied abroad in England at the University of Essex in the fall of 2017 and explained how homesickness affected her.
“I definitely experienced homesickness while abroad. I would have been surprised if I didn’t. I’ve never traveled abroad before. I’m someone who’s pretty awful at adjusting to unfamiliar places, and I’m pretty shy, so it’s difficult for me to put myself out there and make friends especially if the situation is as new as being at Essex felt.”
But when she did, she found a community with the other study abroad students at Essex. “I think we were all felt a bit out of place at first and could kind of bond over that.”
While Ericka Broderick (’18) struggled with homesickness for a while, she ultimately opened up to her roommate. “I was just getting to know [her] and she received me with so much compassion. . . From that point on, my homesickness went away.”
Amber Krane (‘20) is studying abroad at the University of Essex in England and shares her unique perspective.
“I’ve been traveling since I was very young. . . I tend to adjust fairly quickly to my new environments, however homesickness is never really an issue. I remind myself this is not forever and I’ll be home soon after the experience is done.”
Other students, like Frank Chin (‘21), are worlds away, but also have very little homesickness. “I have felt a little homesickness, but it’s like saying a 10 out of a 100 scale. What makes me not even notice it at times is probably the things that you can do in Japan. . . I kinda just sleep it off when it does hit.”
Goran Orr (‘20) is also in Japan attending Seinan Gakuin University with Chin. While he experienced a little more homesickness, he’s “found that joining clubs and being part of the community helps a lot.” Meanwhile, Chin can be found sleeping off his or with his friends from SNHU, like Orr.
Homesickness, in one way, shape or form, is a part of the journey too. Each student has their ways to cope.
Evaul suggested buying your own bedding supplies. Even though the school provides it, the sheets can be “stained or abrasive”. Having these things makes him “feel at home”, which makes a “huge difference”.
It’s important to remember, like Martone did, all of these other study abroad students are going through the same thing. These students all are missing Thanksgiving or Easter, spending Valentine’s Day away from significant others, etc. You’re not alone. Get together for a Friendsgiving like Evaul plans to do. Study abroad with friends like Goran and Chin. Make new friends like Broderick.