I’ve experienced homesickness in a variety of different contexts, especially since I started traveling independently during high school. I specifically had a difficult time with this during the second trimester of my gap year with Winterline, when we were in Southeast Asia. At that point during the trip, I got sick so many times. Because I was physically uncomfortable for a portion of those couple months, I missed the comforts of my home, my friends and family, and even just the grocery store in my neighborhood. I’ve come up with 10 things that helped me feel more at home, even when I was on the other side of the world.
- Keep in touch with your friends and family (but not too much). I found that using FaceTime to talk to my parents and best friends from home was a great way to feel like I was still connected to home. But, I’d advise you to do this only about once a week. More than that, and you’re spending too much time in your room and dwelling on your own homesickness!
- Take a hiatus from social media. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is too real, especially when you miss home. Try to limit your social media usage and be more present where you are. I personally turned off all social media notifications, so I only see posts when I open the apps.
- Create routine in your life. When you’re traveling, especially with Winterline, you’re constantly moving from point A to point B. I found that by sticking with a routine when I woke up and before I went to bed, I was happier and took better care of myself.
- Watch your favorite show on Netflix. Okay, I only recommend this if you’re sick in bed and seriously need to just chill out. When I was cooped up in bed, I watched Friends (my favorite show) and it definitely made me feel more comfortable and at-home.
- Get outside! If you’re missing home, get outside and breathe in the fresh air. Whether it’s taking a hike, renting a kayak, or even just sitting outside, you’ll feel better after you spend some quality time outside. This one always helps me.
- Talk to the people you’re with about how you’re feeling. On Winterline, the people you travel with are your family. Take advantage of that! Talk to them about how you’re feeling, and maybe someone else feels the same way and you can help each other get through it. Use the support system you have! The Field Advisors are also trained to help students in a variety of scenarios, so you can always go to them.
- Exercise. Simple enough, but admittedly hard to maintain while you’re traveling. Yoga, running, and even finding a local workout class or gym are great options. Get your blood pumping and those endorphins will help you feel better and forget about home.
- Overexpose yourself to your surroundings. If you’re really uncomfortable in crowded areas, then spend more time in those settings until you actually feel better about it. You’ll be proud of yourself for overcoming your anxiety and fears associated with whatever is making you uncomfortable. Where you are will start to feel more like your new (temporary) home.
- Write! Write! Write! This comes up in a lot of my blog posts, but it’s because it works so well and is such a great outlet! I love to keep a journal and write about how I’m feeling, what I experience on a day-to-day basis, etc. It’s a nice way to express what you’re going through if you don’t want to talk to someone about it.
- Put your *positive* energy towards something productive. It’s easy to bog yourself down with negative thoughts and feel sorry for yourself when you’re experiencing homesickness. I found that by focusing on productive things (writing for my blog, learning more about photography, focusing on skills, etc.) while traveling, I became more positive and excited for each new day.
Unfortunately, homesickness is sometimes inevitable, especially when you are thousands of miles away from wherever you call “home.” I hope these tips help, and just remember: you are not alone! You always have a support system during Winterline, and you’ll learn to believe that “home is where the heart is.”