I'm a bit more than halfway through my semester here in Denmark, and I feel as though I have adjusted fairly well to my home here in the city. Though I do miss my friends, family and boyfriend back in the United States, I am not hit with frequent pangs of full-on homesickness like I was at the beginning of my time abroad. There are some big differences between missing home and being homesick -- the homesick feeling is definitely much more intense and depressing. Sometimes it becomes all you can think about.
I experienced the brunt of my homesick feelings in the first quarter of my time in Copenhagen, but as time passed and I began to experience new and exciting things, those feelings faded into the background. For anyone interested in studying abroad in the future, or just being away from home for a long time, there are a few things that you can do to help cope with your homesickness.
Get out of the house. Any time you're feeling down, the urge to stay indoors and cuddle up with Netflix is usually strong. Resist the urge. The more you force yourself to go out, the more you set yourself up to have positive experiences in your new environment -- whether that means seeing a neat exhibit at a local museum, meeting a new friend in your host country, or just getting to take in some sunshine. The more positive experiences you have abroad, the better you'll begin to feel, and the less time you'll have to dwell on your homesickness.
Find some pals. Going abroad can be a very alienating experience. It moves you away from your friends and family -- and from the familiarity of your home university or hometown. But, luckily, going abroad sets up a good opportunity to make some new friends. All abroad students already have something in common with one another -- talk to people, learn more about them and where they're from, and try to form some connections. Building a good support group abroad is important.
Don't hang on your phone. Or your tablet, or your laptop, or any other electronic device. Step away. Put it down. The more you make yourself completely available at all times to your friends and family back home, the less you make yourself available to the opportunities and people who surround you while abroad. If you talk constantly to your parents, friends, or boyfriend, you won't be paying attention as well to the world around you. Also, the more you keep in frequent touch with people, the more you will miss them. It may seem counter-intutitve to what your homesick heart is telling you, but the best thing that you can do for homesickness is to spend some time away from your electronics and from the influence of the folks back home.