– So you’re French, live in France, you grew up in Spain, you study in England and you’re doing your year abroad in Norway?
– Mhm yes *laughs awkwardly*
(Yeah I don’t know why I do this to myself either)
And that’s how my introduction to the class went, and that is a thought that goes through my head every so often. The very real thought of “why – on earth – did I decide to do this – AGAIN”.
This is a topic that I feel like I want to write about and share, yet it is also a topic that gets painfully honest very quickly. However one of the reasons why I write this blog for the Business School is because I felt like I had no one to relate to when I left and if I can be relatable to someone, then I will write this and not think twice.
I honestly didn’t think I would get homesick so soon. I haven’t even hit the two month mark of my year abroad, yet I feel like I’ve been here a lifetime and simultaneously feel like I arrived yesterday.
It’s an odd one. Especially because in my case I’m meant to be used to this by now. Being away is my thing. I have lived in three, now four, different countries and being apart from most people I love is just the way I live my life. As a result I’m the ultimate master of Skype and 10 minute long WhatsApp voice messages and you will 100% be tired of me and my stories where I share daily life for all the friends that aren’t with me physically. That is just how my life is and always has been. There is good that comes with it, believe me, I’ve never been closer to my family than by being apart, you know people a bit everywhere on the globe, you realise who your true friends are and you brutally learn the importance of communication and relationships in life. It’s something you eventually just get used to. And even though I sound like some kind of illuminated life guru right now (and partly hating myself for it), homesickness is still something I have to deal with.
Weirdly enough, everything hits on Sundays for me. I do NOT like Sundays lately. As lovely as a Sunday in bed, rain outside and Netflix sounds… it is not. Not when all your friends are away, when your family is not in the living room and when you don’t have to force your cat to cuddle up with you. Sundays are the worst. I also avoid calling home just because I know it will only make me sadder.
I forget sometimes that life does go on for everyone else, and it’s not because I miss everything that all my friends and family feel the same. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure they still miss me (I hope so anyway) but sometimes timing is not completely right. For instance, I was talking to my best friend Erasmus-ing in Madrid, and felt really homesick that day, and listening to how great of a weekend he had and how great his new friends and how everything is so cheap and cool, didn’t make me feel any better. I was happy for him, yet it only reinforced my desire to hop on the first flight to him, or home.
In that case I would say force yourself to go out. Even if it’s as far as the kitchen or your common area. Just get out of your blanket burrito of sadness. It’s as easy as texting your flatmates/friends and suggest something to do together. Whatever to make it through the Sunday blues.
So even if on occasions I know calling home is not the option, I also strongly recommend to call friends and family as much as you can when you feel like you need to. Call, text, snapchat, skype, facetime – you do you – but just do it. I’m the type of the person that will manage to make you stay on the phone for an hour, even if you have things to do. It comes to the point where I think my parents are actively making up errands they have to run in order to get off my (often pointless) phone calls. That’s how I deal with homesickness though, I call and solve distance by talking and hearing their voices. Some days however the distant voices are not enough. The daily texts are not enough. It’s frustrating, and saddening and tough. Knowing that I can’t literally walk down the hallway to talk to my best friend is heart breaking. Knowing that a flight home is too expensive, is frustrating. And the feeling that I am not where my heart is, is awful.
It’s ups and downs. Yes, everyone says that. Yes, it’s cliché. But that’s the reality of it. At times I feel like I’ll swim back to my safe Exeter bubble if I have to. Other times I feel like I’m living the craziest most exciting year of my life and would not exchange that for anything in the world.
You need to find that balance of keeping yourself sane by staying in contact with friends, up to date with your clubs and university, but not to the point of not creating new memories in your new home, not engaging with the people around you. You get me?
Just remind yourself that it’s all about timing. That your feelings are valid and relevant no matter what situation you are in. I’m meant to be a pro at this, and I’m homesick. My amazing Canadian flatmate is away from her family for the first time ever across a freaking ocean, and she is homesick. We all feel it. Remind yourself that there is also good in this experience even when everything seems like a mistake. Focus on what is fun and good in your life, in your experience, because even though it might be different from everyone else’s, it’s your own. And I feel like we ought to make the most out of it.
Not going to lie and tell you it’s been easy to write this blog post. I wish I could always write a funny light-hearted blog post every time about how great everything is. It is most of the time. Other times it isn’t. And since this blog is all about my experience I thought I would state loudly that there are also lows in this Erasmus adventure. If you didn’t have any lows, congratulations (and please give me your tips), but if you did and are in a low, this blog post is to tell you, babe, you are not alone.
There is nothing wrong with stating that you miss people and that you wish you were someplace else sometimes. Accepting it is the first step right? As soon as you accept that, you’ll find yourself being more at peace with the idea of being abroad, you’ll feel sane, you’ll stop feeling like you’re missing out. And you’ll start living what ultimately is being one of the best years of your life. It’s a process but in the end, you’ll be fine. Being abroad will soon become the new normal.