Dealing with Homesickness

Paikea Houston headshot
Paikea Houston
January 18, 2024

Bonjour, mes cheris!

Welcome to my blog! If you aren’t already familiar with me, my name is Paikea and I am currently in Paris!

Le sujet du jour is my continued thoughts on the Parisian honeymoon phase: let’s get into the nitty-gritty of some of the symptoms of when this starts to fade. Topics of concentration include homesickness, and relevant ideas.  

Avant tout, I want to clarify that everyone’s experiences are going to look and feel different depending on your circumstances. Hopefully, however, you may be able to resonate with the feelings I am going to talk about in my blog. 

D’abordget off your phone. Get off it immediately, and try to distance yourself from it. You have things to do! Yes, take pictures and record your journey so that you have memories you can fall back on when your own mental images start to dim, but do not fall down the social media rabbit hole. They talk about it in orientation and how it is the biggest killer of your natural drive to explore and face the wonderful experiences that result from boredom. Get off your phone, get bored, and go explore! Plan things with friends, keep to appointments, and try at least 3 new things every day. Taking a new bus route, a new metro line, a new cafe, a new store, doesn’t matter. Just get outside and try something new, something you don’t need your phone to do. On my phone (I recently acquired Instagram) it is so incredibly easy to lose three hours of my day scrolling through feeds and ignoring the beautiful city outside my door. One of my biggest resolutions for the rest of this week is to STOP that IMMEDIATELY and go explore. So after class today, I am committing to go home, change my shoes, leave my laptop, take the metro to a new park, and just take a little stroll and perhaps buy a crepe without Nutella—I don’t know. What I do know is that social media is going to make you withdrawn, tired, and sad. Sunshine, fresh air, and grass are all vital to getting natural sources of not only dopamine but also serotonin, and spending time with friends can boost your oxytocin which floods your brain with dopamine and serotonin as well. So get out there and be kind to your brain and body.

Deuxièmementmight get homesick. I have been away from my parents before and felt practically no homesickness (by which I mean the intense feelings of sadness and longing). I missed my parents for sure, and sometimes wished they were there to experience things with me, but nothing like I felt here for the first time. This week alone, I have honestly broken down and called my parents numerous times in tears, wishing I was home. The new culture, the new but also familiar problems you are facing, the problems you are facing that aren’t familiar, the process of making new friends, rude people, the lack of anything that seems familiar in terms of a brand name, etc. can leave you feeling bereft of any comfort. Cue homesickness. I couldn’t find haircare brands that resembled the ones I had at home at all, and I missed having meals with my friends and family. I missed the knowledge that whenever I wanted to come home, I could hop in my car and drive two hours to go see them. I had three terrible days in a row where nothing seemed to be working and everything I owned was breaking (cue my drawer, closet doors, and phone breaking on the same day). I was finding it incredibly hard to navigate the constantly delayed or canceled metros (I’ll talk about that later). Then every evening I would scroll through Instagram, and I guess the algorithm picked up on my mood because all I got was videos and pictures of fathers and mothers with their children and I suddenly longed for my parents. After that night I kind of realized that things were not going okay and that I needed to reach out for help. I called my parents who assured me I would be okay and that I had to keep going—the feeling would pass and that my time here would pass too quickly, so I had to enjoy it while I could. I am not trying to scare you, I just want you to know that things are going to be difficult in some way or another and it is okay to feel this way. You may feel alone and stranded, but you aren’t, you always have someone there to help you out, you just may need to take the first step. Don’t spend your study abroad wishing you were home, when you know that at home you were wishing you were here. Enjoy this opportunity while you have it, not despite the homesickness but because of it. Have these experiences knowing that when you go home you want the funniest, most thrilling, and greatest stories about the many adventures you had.

Troisièmementwhen trying to deal with your homesickness and phone addiction, it can help to find a hobby/task that keeps you busy but is also necessary and make it entertaining. For example, I really enjoy cooking, and I have a budget while I am here in Paris (food is expensive) so I have to cook to feed myself. This is a hobby that has several other activities involved like shopping for food and cleaning, both activities that require me to be moving and having my hands busy. It is an activity that calls me to action and makes sure I don’t remain lethargic and unproductive. I also have this blog, which helps me process what I am going through and analyze it so I can write tips I hope others will find helpful. Things you can do to help yourself include similar activities, like deliberately leaving some clothing you need behind (obviously if you can afford it and cannot buy it on Amazon) so you have to go out and shop for it. Make plans you know you can’t dodge and ask others to hold you accountable if that is the kind of support you need. Just make sure that there is something that you have to do that gets you up and moving at least, and at best means you have to take public transportation to another part of the city you are staying in. Keep yourself active! Another great idea is to sign up for the sponsored trips your program provides. For example, I went to Reims on one of my free days with people in the program and made new friends that I now have plans with to explore the city. They are a great opportunity to experience something new, have fun, meet new people, and learn a lot about the country you are in!

Enfin, I know that this was a short one lacking in a bit of content, but I wanted to follow up on my last blog to add some important notes I felt I was missing. All in all, I just want you to know that the things you are feeling are normal and you aren’t alone. You are going to be okay, and I believe in you. It also doesn’t hurt to call your loved ones 😀! Good luck fellow travelers, and I will see you in the next one!

À la prochaine!

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Paikea Houston headshot

Paikea Houston

I am a person who loves her family, good food, and sunshine. I always believe in trying things at least once for failure is never certain. I'm here to take you along with me to travel further, work harder, and dive headlong into the great wide world!

2024 Spring
Home University:
Penn State University
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