12 Tips On How To Deal With Homesickness While Studying Abroad

Updated on 21/05/2024 in
12 tips how to deal with homesickness while studying medicine abroad

Studying medicine abroad is both an exciting and challenging adventure. Leaving your family and home country takes bravery and genuine dedication to your future career as a doctor. And like pretty much everything in life, it has pros and cons.

Hundreds of international students experience homesickness during studying abroad. And that’s completely normal. No matter where you come from or the current country you live in, it is natural to miss home, friends, and family.

Homesickness is a real feeling, and it can ruin your study abroad experience. So we are here to share with you the top 12 ways to deal with homesickness and enjoy your years abroad.

What is homesickness?

Homesickness is the emotional distress that occurs when you are away from home and in an unfamiliar environment.

Homesickness is not a mental disorder and shouldn’t be confused with depression and severe anxiety. It is normal to be homesick studying abroad.

The feeling usually begins when the initial euphoria of moving abroad and starting a new chapter in your life passes.

What causes homesickness?

Usually, the main reason for feeling homesick is leaving your comfort zone. You are no longer sleeping in your bed, nor are you eating home-cooked food.

But homesickness can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Struggle to adjust to a new environment
  • Loneliness
  • Feeling isolated from your support system
  • Culture shock
  • Difficult communicating with locals

That feeling of insecurity and wanting to go back home will not disappear overnight. However, there are many different ways to cope with homesickness while studying abroad, and you just need to find the right one for you. Put in a little work to make yourself feel better, and you will find that your new country is as wonderful as your home.

The 4 stages of homesickness when studying abroad

Еach of us goes through different emotional states when we have to leave home for an extended period of time. However, we can summarise them in the following phases:

Phase 1: The Honeymoon stage

This is the period when you are overly excited about your new adventure. You are a medical or dental student in Europe. You get the chance to live on your own. At this stage, your decision to pursue an MD degree abroad seems like the best decision you have ever made. And not to sound cliche, but it probably is!

Phase 2: The Stage of Distress

A few weeks into this overwhelming experience, you start to find yourself missing home. You are constantly comparing new things with those at home. Small things, such as forgetting keys, missing the bus, or not ordering meals at a restaurant quickly, can cause frustration.

Therefore you will start healing this little voice in your head telling you to go back home. And that is a normal part of the process to adjust yourself to the new environment.

Phase 3: The Stage of Adaptation

At this stage, you will feel the motivation not to give up your medical dream and conquer your insecurities and homesickness.

You will start to understand the new culture and enjoy it. Locals will help you navigate better around the city. Your friends will show you the truly unforgettable experience of being an international student.

Phase 4: The Stage of Acceptance

Acceptance does not imply that new cultures or countries are entirely understood. You will realise that you don’t have to understand everything, rather you will know how to make yourself feel at home and happy.

Finally, you will see all the benefits of studying abroad and will enjoy your experience studying medicine in Europe. You may even inspire other prospective students to take the next step and start their adventure.

How to get rid of homesickness while studying medicine abroad?

Homesickness is a fleeting emotion. But let’s not let it last long. So, here is the ultimate guide that will teach you how to get over homesickness while studying abroad.

Connect with your fellow students

One of the most important things to remember is not to isolate yourself. Talk with other international and domestic medical students.

Your friend and family will try to be as supportive as possible, but your fellows know best how you are feeling right now. Remember, they are probably missing home too.

You can join a study group to better connect with other students or organise regular dinners at popular restaurants. Together you will both enjoy your company and explore the city. What better way to create lifelong memories while making your dream of becoming a doctor true?

Create a routine

For some people sticking to a routine makes them more productive and helps them overcome difficulties faster. Those who believe they have more control are less likely to experience homesickness.

Creating a routine doesn’t mean setting up the alarm for a specific time each day. It means organising your time efficiently.

Make sure to include a day out with friends in your weekly schedule, like going to a sports event, a walk in the neighbourhood, or trying a new hobby.

Studying is important but having fun and interacting with others is crucial to your happiness.

Make your new house/room feel like home

While you won't carry all of your stuff from home with you, you will not regret spending extra money making your new place feel like home. Invest some time in making your room your happy place.

Putting some family photos or maybe a few cushions in your favourite colours are not a bad idea. Little things may go a long way toward making a place more comfortable.

Nevertheless, you're probably feeling homesick because you haven't yet felt at home.

Share how you feel with others

It might be hard to believe that you are not the only one missing home. But that is true. You don't have to always put a smile on your face while talking with your family or other international students.

Share how you feel with your new or old friends. You will see that you are not the only one going through such emotions. They might help you better understand how to deal with it and give you the support you need.

Don’t forget your hobbies

Leaving your home doesn’t mean you have to give up your hobbies. Keeping up with your favourite activities or hobbies will make you feel less distressed. If you were part of a book club back home, why not try to join a new one or if you genuinely enjoy dancing in a group, search for a dance club.

Maintaining your favourite activities will keep both your mind and body in shape. Most people believe that they will have to give up what they love to do, but that is not true. Indeed, they are other people at your new location who enjoy the same things as you. So do a little research and go after your hobbies.

Keep yourself healthy and in shape

When we don't feel like our usual selves, we often neglect ourselves. And we all know that this will inevitably negatively affect our health and spirit.

Therefore, you should exercise regularly and spend some time cooking healthy meals for yourself.

It may take a few weeks to become accustomed to your new surroundings. But after you've figured out where everything is, make an effort to plan your day so that you may get some exercise and fresh air every day.

Make time for yourself

Even if you have the busiest schedule possible, you can still spare some time just for yourself. Sometimes even 5 minutes are enough.

Take time to enjoy your favourite song, watch a podcast or meditate in a peaceful place. We don't frequently get the chance to detach from technology completely, so take advantage of it while you can.

Some “me” time is always a good idea and an excellent opportunity to calm yourself down and enjoy the little things in life.

Discover something new that you would like to learn and do it

When you don’t feel motivated, and you catch yourself constantly thinking about what your friends are doing back home or what party you have missed, try to find new things that give you a feeling of fulfilment.

It would be a good idea to learn the local language or sign up for a yoga/boxing class. These are great ways not to feel homesick when studying abroad.

Make a list of things you want to do in your new country

One of the many awesome benefits of studying medicine abroad is the opportunity to travel around a new country. Make a bucket list of all places you would like to visit, like historical monuments, parks, coffee shops, and landmarks.

Is it normal to be homesick studying abroad? Yes, but try to visit as many places as you can. This will help you create positive memories and keep you focused on the next adventure rather than going back home.

Explore the new culture

Exploring your new home and culture is a fantastic opportunity to fight homesickness.

Listening to traditional music, trying local dishes, and exploring local artists are a few ideas that you can try out.

Say no to FOMO

Students usually experience FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) when studying abroad. One way to stop it is to disconnect from social media.

Yes, it is nice to see your friends posting pictures and videos of their latest party or gathering together. However, if that makes you miss home, try to say NO to social media. Either way, this will make your homesickness even worse.

Keep in touch with your family and friends but not too much

It may seem harsh at first glance, but spending hours on video calls or group chats with your family and friends will make you miss out so much on your new country. Yes, you miss them but try to keep a healthy online relationship and have fun in real life. Don’t forget to benefit from the countless opportunities in Europe.

Several of our brave and adventurous students have created their own YouTube channels to share their experiences and motivating stories studying medicine abroad. So, yes, it is possible to study medicine, have time for hobbies, and even educate other prospective international students.

Now you know what to do when you’re homesick studying abroad. So, don’t waste more time feeling down and truly enjoy your adventure in Europe.

Our team is always here to help you! We are only one call or text away.

Article written by Dr Sam El Mais
Dr Sam El Mais, MD, MSc, BSc, graduated from a renowned medical school in Romania in 2019. He uses his professional knowledge and personal experience to guide students on crucial aspects such as university selection, admissions processes, and cultural adjustments.
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