Did you know that almost everyone experiences homesickness at some point in their lives? It's not just something for kids at summer camps; adults also miss the comfort and familiarity of home when they go somewhere new. As an international intern or trainee living in the U.S., far away from your own country, you may find yourself feeling homesick at times. This is completely normal! Your new environment in the U.S. is likely to be very different from what you are used to, so finding yourself missing home is natural.
Homesickness can take many forms. Most commonly, it is characterized by a sense of anxiety and stress that comes about when someone is missing home. Often people feel sad or nervous and constantly think about home. Sometimes homesickness can be so overwhelming that individuals may withdraw from their new surroundings instead of getting out and exploring them. In addition, you may not become homesick right when you arrive in the U.S. Often the first few weeks in your new city will be so exciting that homesickness will be kept at bay. However, many people find that after the first month, once they have gotten settled into a routine and the initial thrill wears off, feelings of homesickness will begin to surface.
If you have found yourself experiencing some homesickness, do not despair! Homesickness is easily managed. Here are some good ideas for what you can do to overcome a bout of homesick blues.
- Be prepared – Before you leave for the U.S., it is good to be aware that you may become homesick at some point. Remember to pack pictures of loved ones and to collect email addresses and contact information for friends and family. That way you can keep in touch and not feel as though you are so far away. However, keep a good balance. Talking to loved ones back home too much could intensify your homesickness.
- Meet new people – Feeling as though you have a community in the U.S. is a key component of overcoming homesickness. Try to get out and make new friends, or find people who share your interests. Having friends to hang out with makes your new city feel more like a second home! Here are some tips for meeting people and making friends in the U.S.
- Talk to someone – It's never a good idea to keep homesickness all bottled up inside. Talking to a friend or family member about what you're feeling is a great way to release some anxiety and get perspective. Remember, almost everyone feels homesick at some point in their lives, so your friends probably have experiences or strategies that could help you, too.
- Stay positive – Remind yourself of all the things you have the opportunity to try and explore while you're in the U.S. Jump right into your internship and make the most of it! Venture out and see the sites in your new locale, or travel and see what the U.S. has to offer!
- Get busy and stay active – Perhaps the most effective way to combat homesickness is to not give yourself too much time to think about home! Staying active, exploring your new location, meeting new people and participating in different activities will all keep your mind off what you miss from home. Exercise will also help relieve the stress of feeling homesick. The more you do, the more you will enjoy your time in the U.S. and the less you will feel homesick.
Everyone deals with homesickness in different ways, so you need to find what works best for you. Just know that homesickness is not permanent and you will not be away from home forever. Be patient and give yourself time to adjust to your new surroundings. Coming to the U.S. can be overwhelming, but with time you will get comfortable and find out what you like and how best to spend your program in the States.
Your time in the U.S. is for learning and exploration and we hope you experience it to the fullest. The more you take advantage of the opportunities here, the more you will have to share with friends and family when you return home!
To read more about homesickness and how to deal with it, you can visit the following sites:
Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Ani is a fan of exploring new places through photography and the local cuisine. After earning her BFA in photography from NYU and gaining communications experience at International Planned Parenthood Federation, she joined InterExchange in 2012, and worked as the Marketing Producer until 2016.