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Missing Home Abroad

November 2, 2018

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.

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