Working abroad

How to handle homesickness during an internship abroad

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Doing a internship abroad

Homesickness. It happens to the best of us. You can be having a great time living abroad and working as an intern, but all of a sudden you get a bad case of the blues; everything you see starts reminding you of home, you start counting down the days until you get to see your friends and family again, and nothing seems to succeed at cheering you up. You’re staying in a beautiful, exotic country that a couple of months ago seemed like heaven on earth, but you’ve hit a point where you feel out of touch with your surroundings. Don’t worry, homesickness during your time abroad is as common as the flu, and lucky for all of us, there are remedies. Here are our top tips for dealing with homesickness during your internship abroad.

Adventure abroad

Skype with your friends and family

This may seem counter-productive considering you miss them so much; won’t this just make things worse? In theory, perhaps, but in practice it’s an effective way to help remedy your homesickness. By talking to family and friends about your internship, your life in the city and the new friends you’ve made, you’ll make them part of the experience and feel less alone. Show them where you’re living, describe your colleagues, and send them photos. They will certainly be interested in your experience, so bring it to life for them as well, and you’ll soon stop feeling so down. If you are struggling with homesickness, don’t be afraid to speak about it. Once you let your family know how you are feeling, they will likely talk you out of it by reminding you what a great opportunity this is and how one day you’ll look back with very fond memories.

Find new things to do in the city

When you’re doing a full-time internship, it might be difficult to squeeze extra activities into your daily agenda. But you should. Immerse yourself in the local culture, find strange and new things to do, visit unknown places - that will freshen up your daily life and replace your post work slump with excitement. By exploring your new city and making the most of the opportunity, you’ll quickly remember how lucky you are to be there and forget about your homesickness.

Break the routine

Get out of your comfort zone. Homesickness usually hits around the time you finally feel settled into your new surroundings. You start to feel like this is home, but you’re not with the usual people. When this happens, it’s important to remind yourself that this is a different experience, and you can make the most of it by doing things you would never get the opportunity to do at home. Book a weekend trip somewhere exotic, take up a spontaneous hobby class, or go to a networking event to meet others in the same boat as you. By doing things differently to how you would at home, you separate the internship experience from your home life, and it becomes easier to deal with the fact that you’re away. The more you enjoy what you’re doing in your host city, the less likely you are to constantly be thinking of home – where you’ll return to in just a matter of months!

Using Social MediaShow off on social media

You most likely do this already, but if not then you should. Posting on social media is actually an effective (and probably the most straightforward) remedy for homesickness. Take endless photos of you out on your adventures, on your commute, or at dinner and post them to your social media accounts. This way you remind yourself that you are doing something out of the ordinary and that you are proud of it. Seeing people engage with your posts will remind you how unique this experience is and again give you an all-important boost to help counter the homesickness blues.

Write about your internship

Take some time to reflect on what you have learned during the internship and what you still want to achieve. Writing is a good tool to bring you back to the present moment and unclog your thoughts. You might want to use this as a way to simply unwind after a long week, record your memories to look back on in the future, or even to show your friends and family back home what you are getting up to. Whether you choose to keep a journal, a blog, or just a few notes, putting your experience into words will help you see what you’ve been doing in a different light. Your internship is an important part of your experience and you want to do everything you can to make the most out of it

Visit museums and learn about the local history

If you’re not into history stuff, that might sound like a drag. But, homesickness can cause you to lose touch with the local surroundings, so learning about the area you have travelled to might help you get back on track. It’s also a good way to show off all you’ve learnt to your parents when you get home.

Go out and meet peopleNetworking abroad

This is the best remedy by far. By making new friends and acquaintances with whom you share your experience, you’ll get a new lease of life and forget how much you miss home. If you’re heading to your host city with an internship provider, who welcomes hundreds of students each month, you’re almost guaranteed a ready-made group of friends. But if you’re heading out alone, make sure to download apps, join social media groups and attend networking events to help you meet as many people as possible.

The friends you make during your internship abroad are like no other; they fully understand how you’re feeling, be that in regard to homesickness, the challenges of living in your host city, or working as an intern. Don’t be scared to let them know if you are missing home. The chances are your new friends have all experienced a case of the blues before, and they may even have some advice to help you get through it.

We can’t deny that you’ll probably experience homesickness at least once during your stay. If you employ these tips and push through it, you’ll not only become stronger and more independent, but you’ll also make it easier to go abroad for a longer period without getting a serious case of homesickness. 

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