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By Ashlyn

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.

By kennatim

IMG_4358There is a phrase the Irish are very fond of: “It will all be grand.” It basically the Irish answer to “Keep calm and carry on” or “Don’t worry, be happy.” One of our program directors has repeated this mantra to our group of 34 students repeatedly because many Irish customs are difficult to get used to. For example, classes start tomorrow and I am still unsure of what exactly I am taking. This is completely normal for Irish students, whereas in the U.S. I would have already purchased my overpriced textbooks two months ago. Something as simple as the realization that the school library is closed on Sundays can leave a study abroad student’s head spinning.

Aside from these minor bumps in the road, the first week has been remarkably exciting. Dublin City University is about a 20-minute bus ride from Dublin City Centre. My friends and I have taken every opportunity to go explore the city and I have felt like I have spent an eternity on the bus. It has not deterred me from having fun, as those bus rides are spent with good friends and, thankfully, free Wi-fi.

The beginning has mostly consisted of trips to the supermarket and mall, get situated, orientation sessions, and making friends. With 34 people in the program, it is interesting to consider the dynamics of friend groups made and changed. The highlight of my week was when I got a tap on the shoulder late one night in the city centre. I turned to find a face it took me a second to recognize. The day before, I had met a group of French exchange students trying to find a basketball to play with at the DCU gym. I joined them. Although our basketball search came up short, it was so funny to find my new friend about 45 minutes from campus. We exchanged Facebook information, and obviously had to take a photo.

One of the biggest challenges for me is just getting accustomed to the cultural differences. The only time I have really gotten homesick was when I was unable to find pretzels in two grocery stores. Getting lost in the city, committing cultural faux-pas (which I will discuss next week) and the academic differences are just a few of the challenges I have faced. I am eager to continue to learn about the city and get used to Irish customs. I cannot wait to feel like a local and be (hopefully) able to be a good tour guide in the city for visiting friends and family.

By mcbitter

It seems like just yesterday that I was writing my very first blog post - it's hard to believe that this is my last! My classes are wrapping up this week, as are my final exams, so soon I'll be leaving this wonderful city and heading back to the States. In a way, I'm ready to go home, but it's really bittersweet because I'm not sure when I'll be back. (I know I will at some point, though!) Before I leave, I'm making sure to check off a few last things that I didn't get around to visiting, like the Catacombs (which I hear are AMAZING) and an exhibition of American photographer Garry Winogrand. Overall though, while I didn't have the chance to visit every corner of the city (it is definitely too big for that), I think I've gained a thorough understanding of Paris, which became my primary goal throughout this trip.

What am I going to do once I'm back in the States? First thing on the list - after getting over my jet lag, that is - is to visit my friends and family. They've been a huge source of support right from the beginning, especially when I was homesick. Speaking from experience, homesickness abroad was a real issue for me, and it was a different animal than the kind I experienced when I first got to GW because of the time difference and not seeing family midway through at Thanksgiving or parent's weekend. All I can say is that I am eternally grateful for Skype! Also, speaking of homesickness, I will most definitely be paying a visit to two very important parts of my heart: Chipotle and Target. (Yes, I went there.) It might sound silly, but those are definitely the American things I've missed the most while I've been here. No Mexican restaurant or French store could replace either of them!

I've realized that I'm really glad that I decided to study abroad in the fall because I get to come home to the holiday season in full swing. Christmas and New Year's are bound to be amazing in Paris, but being with my friends and family is what's most important to me. Overall though, coming here for study abroad has given me incredible opportunities, and I won't soon forget that. I traveled to numerous places, including Ireland, the Czech Republic, Belgium, and different regions within France. I got to improve my French and see how French people live on a daily basis, especially when I began babysitting a little Parisian girl on some weeknights. I've made a lot of new friends from all over the world, most importantly the GW and Sciences Po students with whom I've spent the last few months. Most important, though, is that I really and truly learned a lot about myself. I know that everyone says something along those lines, but it really is true. Studying abroad has been probably the biggest challenge I've ever faced; some days were really hard, to be completely honest, but others were simply amazing. Looking back, I'm really proud of myself for taking advantage of this incredible opportunity and will definitely carry it with me for the rest of my life. So, yes, it's been a crazy ride - thanks for coming along with me!

By bevvy2212

Three things I miss about the U.S/ GW


I never thought I would say this, but I actually miss Gelman… Sciences Po is kind of like GW. It does not have an actual campus; instead it has several academic buildings randomly scattered around in the 6eme arrondissement of Paris. That being said, space is quite scarce. Therefore, finding a desk to sit down and do some work is quite the challenge. For once in my life, I am actually motivated to do work and here I am, unable to even set a foot in the library because it’s so packed. Why Sciences Po, whyyyy. I also miss being able to physically go into the aisles and find books that I want because most of the books in Sciences Po are being stored underground that stretches miles and miles under Paris, so it requires some time to get the requested book transferred above ground.


  • Big Portions

Maybe I have been spoiled, but I am constantly starving in Paris because food is so expensive and the portions are tiny in comparison. 3 euros for a bottle of coke? What is this, capitalism! No refills? Blasphemous! I’m not a big fan of bread, wine, or cheese. So I honestly don’t know what I’m doing here in Paris.


  • The way I dressed.

The weather drops down to the 50s in the mornings here… while it’s been in the 80s in DC. It’s the first week of September. It’s barely fall yet. I should not be breaking out my llama sweater when I wake up for my 8am class. Also, I’m a pretty casual-dress person, so all the posh clothing and Louis Vuitton make me feel a little under-dressed at times. What I don’t understand is the Parisians’ need to dress up for badminton. Badminton! I went to my badminton class on Tuesday, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, I considered myself as dressed appropriately. But I was confused by the group of students in khakis, loafers, skirts, and flats when I reached the gym. I double-checked the address and came into realization that these poshly dressed people are, indeed, my fellow badminton players.

The teacher later cancelled class which was when I realized that my fellow posh badminton players immediately blended in with the Parisians on the street because of their way of dressing and I was left looking like I was going to the Olympics in my sports attire. Not to mention the amount of stares I have received again because of my shorts, God forbid that a girl should not show some skin when it is 82 degrees out!

In traveling to England for the first time, there are a litany of things that I'm excited to see, but there are also many things from back home that I will miss. Here's a quick list what I'll miss about living in the states.

1. Driving. This is actually my biggest pet peeve regarding both DC and London. As a native San Diegan, I have to drive everywhere: to the store, to the gym, even to my mailbox. I’ve learnt to take solace in the inevitable amount of driving that I do, and it’s come to be one of the things I love most about my daily routine. London, unfortunately, will not provide me with the opportunity to drive. Not only do they drive on the left side of the road, the dashboard and interior of English cars are completely flipped. Furthermore, London traffic is supposed to be notoriously bad, worse than traffic in DC, even.

2. No fish. In London, seafood is a quintessential part of thee cuisine. Whether it's upscale dining or a fish and chips stand, it's difficult to escape the English seafood. This is rather unfortunate for me, because all seafood makes me quite ill. Don't get me wrong; if you're visiting London, I encourage you to try it, but it's just not for me.

3. Sunshine. Perhaps it's my own personal bias, but there is no place in the world that has sunshine like my San Diego hometown. In London, it's dreary and rainy pretty much every day. One of the biggest tips I've received is to bring a raincoat and a good umbrella; apparently, I'll need them.

4. TV. Of course this was going to be on the list! I have a finite amount of time living in London; I don't want to waste it watching my favorite shows on Amazon Prime and Netflix. But how will I get through an entire 4 months without my Arrow or Parenthood fix? Of course, I won't be completely without visual entertainment. Nerd that I am, I've already familiarized myself with British television: from dramas like Doctor Who or Broadchurch, humorous "factual" programing like Top Gear, or channel 4 panel shows like 8 Out of 10 Cats or Mock the Week, I think I have my British TV bases covered.

5. Knowledge of my surroundings. Though I look forward to seeing and exploring London, the fact is it's a little frightening to enter a foreign country with little knowledge about the shops and hang-outs near my apartment. Will I accidentally stumble into a bad part of town? Successfully navigate the tube system? Be able to find Argos when I need it? I hope so; I plan to make it my personal mission to learn and explore as much about London as I can whilst I'm there.

By Dominique Bonessi

So after two weeks back from my spring break, I fell into a rut! Missing my family, my boyfriend, my home, my own bed—wait!!!! I knew this wouldn’t do, I knew I needed to break out of this rut and start living in the present.

Here are some tips I am currently using to get myself out of this homesick rut and reminding myself why I wanted to study abroad in the first place:

  1. Thinking back to your first week, remember how exciting and new everything was.  Remind yourself of your goals had while studying abroad, have you accomplished all of them?  If not, now is your chance—take it!
  2. Change up your daily routine.  Instead of going home or going to the gym right after school, I am trying to find new places and cultural events to attend.
  3. Realize that grades are important, but not everything.  While abroad as long as you maintain a C or better in your classes you will be given credit back at GW.  I am not saying slack off, but remember you have a responsibility to yourself to enjoy your time as much as possible and if that means spending more time with locals and chatting in a café for hours, so be it.
  4. For those concerned with homework, change up the places you do homework in.  I have made it my goal to find a new café every weekend to do homework and I have invited several of my friends in the program to come with me.  Not only are you getting homework done, but you are also spending time with people.

By msotomayor12

My proudest feat thus far is my ability to survive in another country. Whenever I stop and think about it, I can’t believe that I can communicate with locals and never even second-guessing myself. Not to mention that I am completely comfortable walking around the city because I can now visualize it in my head. These are the little things I am thankful for. I’ve proven to myself that I can have a life elsewhere.

Yet, time and time again I’ve realized that I miss the most random things from the US and I still cannot live without them. How long would you last without the following things?


5. Living near friends: the ability to walk down a flight of stairs or a couple blocks from your dorm building to hang out with friends

Ah college life, how I miss thee. Now that I am far removed from the GW bubble, I realize how fortunate I am to have all my best friends in one place. Yes, it is quite the distraction, but the ability to live near my friends makes life so much fun. It’s definitely something I will appreciate much more upon my return.


4. 24-hour news channels: the ability to tune in to a news channel at any point of the day to get informed

It was around midnight Central European Time when I got an NBC News text alert about the Fort Hood shooting. As an aspiring reporter, I immediately started checking CNN, NBC, New York Times, Washington Post, you name it, to find more information. When I couldn’t find anything I started looking for news channels to watch because that’s what any news enthusiast does. I absolutely miss the ability to watch the news when I’m eating, doing homework, or for my own pleasure. I’m constantly glued to it.

However, I do appreciate Spanish news channels. It goes beyond local and national stories of the day to focus on conflicts around the world that I was never aware of until I heard a 30 second recap of it. I appreciate news as a learning tool so much.


3. A healthy diet: eating an array of foods in moderation that benefit one’s health

To be fair, I prefer foods from other countries than the US because I forget how delicious fresh and unprocessed food tastes. While the Spanish do have an array of healthy food options and a balanced diet, the overall thinking towards some types of food is a little skewed. Different people have told me that eating lettuce is much healthier than spinach, eating cartilage and fat from meat regularly isn’t bad for you, and that mayonnaise is the key to happiness, which is just not true. It’s awkward vocalizing my opinion about these particularities, especially in front of my house mom, but what can I say; I’m stuck in my American ways.


2. Breakfast: a meal eaten to jumpstart your day and metabolism that consists of eggs, cereal, pancakes, waffles, bacon, yogurt, and/or fruit.

In Spain, as in many Latin American and Western European countries, people start their morning with coffee and toast. That’s it. Since I’m usually on the go, even in the US, I absolutely don’t mind a light breakfast during the week. However, I miss my traditional American breakfast during the weekends, especially brunch.


 1. CVS: a convenient store that houses a pharmacy and every other living supply that is crucial to survival, all in ONE place.

Of all the things the US has to offer, I never thought I would miss CVS the most. The word “convenient” takes on a whole new meaning when you’ve been separated from it for too long. In Western Europe there are pharmacies everywhere, but they only sell medicine and nothing else. If you want to buy shampoo, a nail file, or a new pair of headphones one needs to visit two different stores (that may be blocks away from each other) to find them. The other day it took me four metro stops to discover una botica, a tiny shop, that sold an array of living supplies. Even though I’m so grateful that it exists, the trek was quite inconvenient.

However, not having these things does not mean that I regret studying abroad. To be honest, I could live without these privileges. It just takes more than 5 months living abroad to adjust to these changes.

By anishag22

As I sit at my computer typing this blog post, I can't help but feel shocked when I look at the date. Seriously though, when did it get to be March? Let alone mid-March? Have I really been in England for 2 months now?

Time is flying by so much faster here than it does back home. This weekend I'm headed to Berlin, though it will be my last weekend trip for awhile, which is in a way relieving because all of this  back and forth from Bristol has been a little stressful. In just two weeks, I'll be headed off on the adventure of a lifetime: one month of nonstop travel with my parents and then my best friend. It's surreal that I'll be going to Ireland, Scotland, France, Italy, the Czech Republic and finally Austria in the span of 30 days - I feel so lucky to have this opportunity (Big thanks to UK higher ed for the month-long "Easter Break!")

My realization of how quickly time is passing has helped me to remember to try to enjoy every second of this experience. At this point, I'm feeling  well-adjusted and acclimated to Bristol. The culture shock has worn off, and what's left of any 'homesickness' only creeps in when, for example, someone explicitly mentions California.

I still distinctly remember one day about 2 months ago now when my American friends and I were sitting in the local Bristol Starbucks, silently sipping our drinks. We were about 3 days in to our Bristol experience, and we were hating it. Starbucks was our safe haven of familiarity, but even there we didn't feel wholly comfortable. We were all simply too put off by cultural difference to let anything 'new' in. My friends and I look back at that time now and laugh, and it's great to see how far we've come. I am about as integrated as I could possibly be with my 10 English flatmates and I have even started incorporating a few British slang terms into my daily vocabulary!

When I was in Paris two weeks ago, I saw how different it was for my friend who is living with other Americans within her program. Although she obviously faces a language difference that I don't, I think that her experience would be so much richer had she been able to live with French students. I whole-heartily recommend any students considering studying abroad who are reading this to think about fully integrating yourself by stepping outside your comfort zone and choosing to live with non-Americans. My decision to do so has truly been one of the highlights of my study abroad experience thus far!

Until next time-

Xx, Anisha

By stlake

Yesterday morning, I walked into the kitchen and Mama Dominga was standing over the fruit bowl, just shaking her head. She was upset because I didn’t eat any apples this week and now they were going “bad”. I put air quotes around that because in Spain, leftover culture really is frowned upon. Mama Dominga goes to the market and gets fresh bread almost every other day and fresh fruit about 3 days. But instead of getting defensive, I quickly thought of another creative idea; apple pie. So, I spent my Sunday afternoon, watching El Voz, the Spanish version of The Voice, and making pie. Mama Dominga, while I do get frustrated with her sometimes, is one of the most special people I have ever had the privilege of meeting, and we are actually quite similar. The similarity I realized yesterday was that we both cry when we hear good singers, especially if they can belt out a Motown classic. Then last night, the crew had dinner with Benjie’s parents, who are incredibly sweet. And per usual, the dinner was filled of stories and laughs and I left Sal y Pepe (home of homemade pizza and sangria) feeling a lot better than I’ve felt in a while.

Obviously, my Alicante adventure has been the absolute best and I'm having the time of my life. But I want to take the time to discuss the darker side of study abroad, homesickness. Besides this week, I really only had one other week of homesickness. It came around my 5th/6th week here, when the honeymoon stage faded away. I realized this wasn’t just a beach vacation, but I had schoolwork and other responsibilities. I felt sad and at times, slightly hopeless. Surprisingly, talking to friends and family at home only made things worse.  I couldn’t believe I had to go another 3 months without seeing them. So you may ask, how did I got over it? I realized that all my friends here were in the same boat and all of us, sticking it out together and creating amazingly funny memories was the only way to make my experience.

This time it’s been a little different because I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m almost finished here and I know there isn’t much left. I have Thanksgiving weekend, one more trip to Morocco, exams and presentation and then I’m off for the Lake Family European Holiday to Barcelona and Paris. So now it’s more of a bittersweet feeling; I am close to all my friends here and don’t want to leave them but I’m still so excited to go home. I’m going be honest with you guys right now. I can’t believe I am admitting this to the entire internet but I’ve been listening to Taylor Swift because I just feel like she’s the only who gets my over-dramatic attitude right now. For those who know me, you must see the severity of this situation.

After my amazing Sunday, I woke up this Monday morning, with a new attitude. Taylor Swift has been set aside (I wish I could say thrown out but she has a time and place-god I can’t believe I’m having this epiphany right now and owning up to it). I’m back listening to my abroad anthem Roar by Katy Perry (try not to feel empowered when you listen to it, I dare you.) and eating the last piece of Madre’s and my apple pie. I’m feeling much better. For those students who are reading this post and thinking about going abroad, know this. There will be some days where you just want to be eating cheeseburgers with your best friends, and watching the Kardashians. But then you’ll book a weekend trip to Morocco and you’ll realize you need to get a grip.

One Month More, Another Day, Another Destiny.

(yes Les Miserable is pretty over-dramatic, but better than Tay-Tay Swift. It’s a classic.)


I usually only go back home one time before the end of the semester (for Thanksgiving). When it comes time to depart from Union Station for my home in the hills, I always look forward to it. I'm excited to return to family, friends, pets, the house I grew up in, and the restaurants that I never really appreciated until I left. We all know the feeling of comfort that accompanies familiarity. Conversely, at the end of long holidays, I'm always ready to go back to DC. I'm excited to return again to my other friends, classes, parties, nightlife, etc. But my desire to return to these two places has never been uncomfortably strong.

However, this past week was the first time I really experienced homesickness. I think a combination of missing both of these homes, in addition to missing creature comforts (like bacon, fresh milk, public transit, burgers, clean streets, English proficiency, good beer, etc...) really just got to me. I kind of just laid in bed, thinking about how great it was going to be to see all my favorite people and places again. Focusing on this made anything else just seem gray.

But after a wasted day filled with a disgusting amount of sleeping, lounging, and Facebook, I just got tired of being homesick; I came to the realization that there's no way I'm going to do everything that I want to do before I leave here, and I'll most likely leave wishing I could come back to experience this that or the other thing. And while I still miss all those things back in the states, I've stopped thinking about it so much. Constantly comparing things to their counterparts "back home" gets you in this terrible state of mind where you fail to fully appreciate what's in front of you. So while I'm still looking forward to my homecoming experience, I've stopped looking ahead to it. That is. I've been focusing on where and when I am right now, and no more, and that has been much more enjoyable.