Blog post

How To Beat Homesickness

Have you ever gone to a completely unfamiliar country to live on your own? Well, I have. Twice. And of course, it was not easy.

By Mari Olan - 5 November 2017

When I was 17, I moved to Spain to live my life-long dream to study abroad. Just a year later, I moved to the United Kingdom to pursue my dream career. After moving away from half-way across the globe, I have embarked on a journey of self-discovery and independence, and to experience life outside of my home country.

Like any normal teenager, I had a lot of expectations of university especially since I was about to start my university life in an absolutely foreign country. The mere thought of studying abroad brought a lot of emotions –excitement, fear, eagerness, etc. Now after one academic year in the University of Derby in England, I can say that it has been a long journey of ups and downs. Making new friends, learning to be independent, fulfilling assignments and dealing with the so-called homesickness.

Although the English language was never a struggle for me, culture shock still made me feel isolated, different and unaccepted. It sure made me miss home after I thought about my friends from back home and the friends I have made in Spain but most importantly, the family I left back home. But overcoming homesickness was not difficult for me when I tried out different techniques to make my new environment a safe place and by letting it be my new home.

Here are some tips:

  1. Make yourself feel at home. Decorate your halls room as homely as possible to make yourself more comfortable with your new environment. (WARNING: Putting up pictures of friends from home MAY or MAY NOT be a good idea when the emotions kick in.)
  2. Learn to make dishes from back home. With this, it will be easy to make dishes you crave for that are not readily available in the UK. It would also be good to find the nearest grocery store that sells foods from home. For example, they sell Asian foods in Chung Wah.
  3. Keep up your habits or find a hobby. When you find yourself alone in your room, spend some time doing something that would distract yourself from feeling lonely or sad –that could be watching your favourite TV show, playing sports outdoors, or maybe even window shopping. A lot of things change when moving abroad and keeping a habit like these can help maintain balance in your life. This can help with making things a little bit more familiar and welcoming when you are adjusting to a new environment.
  4. Treat yourself –to good food, small local trips, shopping. Of course, all of these in moderation and wisely.
  5. Keep in touch with friends and family. But never too much. Having someone to talk to about the way you feel is always a good thing but spending too much time talking to him or her may be disruptive from exploring your new space and being present in the place you now live in.

In the end, no matter how young or old you may be, nothing should stop you from pursuing your dreams. Homesickness is just a brush off the shoulder. You’ll get through it, champion!

About the author

Mari Olan
Film Production, VFX and Post Production Student

I am currently studying Film Production at the University of Derby in England, UK and since then, I have produced and directed several short films in LA and the UK. I also enjoy travelling a lot and exploring new cultures, including trying different cuisines. With this said, I have been to over 20 countries.