Don't you ever get homesick?

Jane Swingle
March 7, 2016
Jane Swingle - Study Abroad Blog - Editor's Choice

Not really.  While I’ve definitely experienced homesickness before, the last few years have helped to prepare me for living away from home.  As college students in this digital age satiated with social media, I think we create pre-existing notions about what it means to study abroad.  We watch our friends go abroad before us and share photos and posts that highlight the best parts of living abroad—the parties, the new friends, the weekends spent hopping over to another country for a quick getaway—and omit the not-so-picturesque aspects.  Like homework.  And crappy weather.  And loneliness.  If studying abroad multiple times has taught me one thing, it’s that studying abroad is not only what we see in our digital “realities.”  


Of course we post photos of our best moments with upbeat captions that make everyone at home jealous.  I do it, too.  We want to remember the fun aspects of experiencing foreign cultures, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with this.  What does become a problem is when my classmates here say things like, “I didn’t do anything today.  I stayed home all day, and I feel crappy/guilty/sad about it.”  Why do we feel guilty when we don’t “seize the day” and “take advantage of our time” every moment of every day?  These are unattainable expectations.  


Something I like to remember is that studying abroad is not one long vacation.  It is living a day-to-day life, and that includes homework.  And crappy weather.  And loneliness.  And slow days to decompress and recharge.  As students living away from home, we should remind each other—and ourselves—that not feeling like we’re living to the fullest all the time is perfectly okay.  In fact, I think it’s valuable.  I’ve learned just as much about myself in my quiet, solo days as I have during energetic trips with new friends.  


When people ask me if I ever get homesick, I answer that while I do miss family and friends, one of the most beneficial things I’ve learned is to release expectations that don’t serve me.  I’m not someone who gets homesick, and I think it’s because I try not to worry about doing what I think college students “should” do while studying abroad.  I don’t feel guilty about not going out at night when I would rather stay in bed (which is most nights if I’m honest).  The only person this semester needs to satisfy is me.  And it does; we are so fortunate to get this self-directed time in our lives, and I remind myself that I don’t need to impress my Facebook friends.  I love living abroad, and I enjoy it more fully when I don’t pressure myself to have a once-in-a-lifetime-personality-forming-life-changing experience every day.  Some days, I go to school, buy groceries, and get a papercut.  And that’s okay.  Maybe I’ll even post a picture of it on Instagram. 

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Jane Swingle

<p>I am Jane from Janesville, Wisconsin. &nbsp;I study communications and French at the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota, but I like to spend as much time as possible studying abroad. &nbsp;One day, you&#39;ll probably find me living in Paris. &nbsp;If you can&#39;t find me there, you must not have searched all the boulangeries.</p>

2016 Spring
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