A Guide to Home

Christena Carollo
October 24, 2016


How are you today? If someone hasn’t asked you this in a while, I’d like to ask you now. You may be reading this as a mildly interested browser, a current study abroad student who is doing well, or someone who might be missing home and is feeling a little lost.

No matter what made you click on this blog post, I’m glad you’re here.

Choosing to come study in another country is a huge and brave decision that you should be proud that you made. It’s no easy task getting here, having to fill out all the right documents and applying for a passport.

It’s a huge deal. And I’m proud of us for doing it. And if you are thinking about doing it, go for it. You can get yourself there. Visit your school’s study abroad advisor and explore your options. The rest of the world isn’t too far away -- you need only book a ticket.


Missing Home


At some point in the semester you may feel slightly detached or out of place. You may start to crave that smoothie from your favorite place downtown or your uncle’s homemade macaroni and cheese. Even pets can be a major pull, tugging your thoughts back to your side of the Atlantic.

This is real and very normal. I personally miss Dunkin’ Donuts, as sad as that sounds. But the reason why I miss the sugary hazelnut ice coffee I order every single time I go, is because I usually do so with my best friend.  Whenever I feel this, I send her a text, scheduling a phone call or video chat. This helps me. It gives me that wonderfully giddy feeling of anticipation. And as I wait for our chat, I collect funny stories and oddities on the street to share with her. Then finally, when I hear her voice, as she casually makes fun of me for two hours, it’s a moment that feels like home. And video chat can be downright therapeutic.

So make that call. Netflix is always a good distraction, but there’s nothing like a long chat with the people who mean most to you.

Also, a trick to avoiding gloomy thoughts of things far away is to refrain from visiting Facebook for a while. When you are being bombarded with a continuous feed of life back home, it can infect you with a bad case of FOMO (for old souls like me, that means fear of missing out). It’s a dangerous game taking in those smiling faces and inspiring posts about bettering your community. You will have a great opportunity to do so when you get back home -- better your community that is, not just staring at smiling faces. Unless it's on Facebook, then it's socially acceptable.




If you are feeling weird in your surroundings all of a sudden, try to talk to a fellow classmate or IES staff member. Other students will most likely feel just as you are now at one point or another during the semester. It’s good to share the things you miss.This way you are momentarily bringing these things into your current reality. It gives you the opportunity to voice it and  teach another person about something you find worthwhile in the world -- even if that’s a coffee from Dunkin’.

You can grab your roommates and have a pow-wow with lots of food and open communication. Tell them about your friends and family. Share childhood memories and favorite burrito joints. Talk about what attracted you to your host country and what you loved most about it before you started to feel a little off. Recall yourself during week one. What excited you? Why? Was it atmosphere, mood, place, food, music? What made you feel good? Try to find that again and recreate the moment. Invite nostalgia in. And this time, it will be in a healthy way. You will be able to satiate that craving for one of those experiences that first made you feel grounded in your host country.

Alone Time


There are moments when you just need to be alone for a bit. Classes are rough that week, you miss your cat, you dropped your last euro into the Grand Canal while running from an angry swan and now are unable to get that croissant that you have been waiting for ALL DAY... Inhale, exhale. I understand. You need some peace and quiet to calm that stubbed toe.

There are books stores all over the city that can be an oasis for an agitated mind. Hodges Figgis, Books Upstairs or an Eason could help.

If books would only cause a headache at this moment, then maybe try a movie. Just last week I went solo to Savoy, a movie theater that is on O’Connell Street. I got myself a popcorn, coke and some piece of mind. A movie could be just what you need. And if you are missing home, well seeing a movie is almost universal -- pretend you are in your favorite theater back home and allow yourself the length of the movie to relax and think of things you miss. But when you leave, share a secret smile with yourself, silently thank the theater and and say “I’ll see you real soon” -- except this time in the states.

Study abroad is as much a personal journey as it is an educational and social one. And at times, especially if you are away for an extended period, it can be rough. But don’t fight the homesickness. Talk about it with your friends and family back home. Talk to friends in your program, along with your advisors and professors. Take those necessary steps to comfort yourself, like with a pastry, a movie or a good book. Listen to your favorite songs.

And breathe.

You can and will get past this, just be understanding and gentle with yourself and allow for the expression of feelings -- don’t bottle.


If you would like any advice or personal stories of my time here in Dublin, please feel free to ask: christenacarollo@gmail.com


“You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” This song might do the trick. It does for me, and now I dedicate it to you.



*Disclaimer: Swans near the Grand Canal are actually very civil, and I have never seen them chase or antagonize anyone.

Christena Carollo

<p>Hello, I&rsquo;m Christena, a 4th-year journalism student at the University of Florida, who has decided to spend a semester experiencing the wonders of Dublin, Ireland. I am passionate about traveling, food, reading, writing and experiencing new and beautiful cultures. I&rsquo;m a 21-year-old with a thirst for knowledge and adventure, and I&rsquo;m excited to share all that I find abroad! Happy readings and a jolly good day to you!</p>

2016 Fall
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