You travel across an ocean to an entirely new continent to discover new cultures while traveling and studying. There are so many people to meet, places to see, a language to learn! You are studying abroad, a dream! So why are you homesick? That’s been on my mind lately, as I am about halfway through my time abroad. I was never one to really be homesick, I wanted to attend university outside of my home state Colorado to experience another state, another way of life. And when I got to college I was so busy making friends, starting classes, and having fun I barely remembered to miss home. As my mom likes to remind me, I didn’t call in the first few weeks I was at school. But as I settled in to the routine and spent more time away from my family, I began to miss my old routine and seeing them.
Coming to study abroad felt very much the same way. I got to Madrid and I immediately began school, meeting new friends, and traveling. I would send pictures to my family but I was way too busy to call or message consistently. I was having a blast! Spain was treating me well, I was practicing the language and trying the tapas. You are supposed to live large while abroad, and I was. Then a few weeks in, I began to feel the weight of schoolwork, was traveling every weekend, and I started to feel tired. I felt like I should continue traveling and see as much as I could before I have to leave Madrid. As the initial excitement was wearing off, it was harder and harder to motivate myself to enjoy the experience, and I began to develop a more negative mindset. There were sometimes that I really didn’t want to go out to dinner with friends or leave my homestay. I began to lose energy and feel down. I realized I was getting homesick. For my entire life my family has been my support system, and I knew I could always rely on them. I got caught in the excitement as well as the guilt of not having fun that I had forgotten how much I needed them.
So I made a few calls, and sent a few emails, and I felt immensely better. I was able to continue on with a new energy. Even though I missed them, I knew I couldn’t let it stop me from enjoying my time in Spain. I just knew that I needed to make sure I kept up with my family, as well as my friends back home. The time difference makes it a little bit difficult to find the right time to call people, but where there’s a will there’s a way. I try to have a full conversation with someone from back home at least once a week, because even though it is easy with social media and the constant connection through the internet to “be in contact” with someone, it is definitely better to have a real conversation. I also realized after talking to my family that it is also ok to take breaks once in a while, the travel burnout does happen. Making the best of your study abroad experience also includes taking care of your mental state. I also like to talk about my family with friends here and share stories about our different traditions, it helps because everyone else also experiences the same thing.
I still do miss home and everyone back in the United States, and there are some days that are harder than others, but I know what I have to do to feel better.