Sunday, August 6, 2017

Overcoming Homesickness

As someone who suffers from homesickness, I understand the fear others have of travelling far from their loved ones or the place they call home. If your love for home has kept you from travelling to other countries and experiencing other cultures, I wish to share with you how to get the feeling of home half way around the world.

While it is tempting to rely on scheduled calls and video chats with friends and family to create a sense of home, doing so will prevent you from fully immersing yourself in your surroundings. If you made the decision to travel abroad, do not waste the opportunity to explore a new culture or meet new people. At first, it may be daunting, but you will soon find that anywhere you go there are people eager to share their culture and home with you!

Having traveled to Taiwan once before, I was excited to return. Four years ago, while studying in Tainan, I suffered from severe homesickness. So, when I made the decision to spend the summer studying in Taipei my family was shocked. But I knew this time would be different.

I chose to travel with a friend from school. If you are considering travelling or studying abroad, I highly recommend this! Having someone familiar to share your greatest experiences and frustrations with helps create a sense of home. If you are unable to travel with a friend, there are always opportunities to find host families or exchange partners. Choosing to either live or spend time with a host family or exchange partner is a quick way to discover local culture. Rather than only experiencing a foreign city as a tourist, you get an insider’s look at culture and cuisine. With a host family, you will find you can create a home away from home. Even if you do not enroll in an official host family or exchange partner program, do not be afraid to interact with the people you meet as you study or travel. Making such connections creates a sense of community, which you will appreciate on days you miss home.

Learning a language or studying a culture should not be limited to the confines of a classroom or a TripAdvisor “Top 10 Things to Do in….” list. Only through connecting with locals and allowing yourself to explore a city or country will you be able to overcome your homesickness and reinforce what you learn through unique and exciting experiences.

George Washington University - Elliott School of International Affairs
M.A. Security Policy Studies
Organization of Asian Studies – Vice President
Sigur Center 2017 Asian Language Fellow

National Taiwan University - International Chinese Language Program, Taiwan

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