How to Handle Homesickness

How to Handle Homesickness

I lived in South Korea for 2.5 years, and shortly after that amazing experience, I came to Washington D.C.! I feel like I know a thing or two about homesickness, and I hope that you find this post helpful. Below are a list of tips and tricks I have compiled from friends, colleagues and the internet. I think there is something to be said about the unwavering support and love from one's family. I have mentioned in multiple posts about how much I owe them, so it's no surprise that I would get a bit homesick. I have been thinking a lot about home and how great it would be to go back, but as you know if you have been following my blog, I am going to be staying here in D.C. for a while. Here are my suggestions and ideas for combating homesickness:

You are going to feel many emotions when you first arrive at TWC: excitement, optimism, but also confusion and possibly even some frustration (D.C. Metro). It's important to take a step back and accept the fact that you are new, and on the same level with a tourist. Embrace your newcomer status and take in as much of the city as possible. It would be great to go ahead and schedule some of the things you want to do during your time here.



Don't forget that 'reverse culture shock' will be another challenge you will face.

The experience does not end once you get on a plane back home!


One thing that will keep you going is maintaining your habits. When you're living in a new location, don’t stop going for that morning run or waking up to read up on current events. Yes, this semester will be a bit stressful, but I think that you will adjust better if you bring your routine from home and adapt it a little.

It might seem like you're the only person who isn't immediately enamored with D.C., but the truth is that you're not the first person to feel homesick - you're likely not even the only one in your program. You might feel a lot of pressure to be positive about the whole experience, especially if you had high expectations when you arrived, or feel the need to put on a happy face when you talk to folks back at home, but there's no shame in being homesick. It happens to almost everyone, and trying to ignore it will definitely not make it go away.


You also don't have to mope around all the time, but it's perfectly fine to confide in some friends about feelings you may be struggling with - chances are, they're going through a similar process or have experienced something like it in the past! TWC staff is great for this; they have lived your experience and know exactly what you are going through. The best source of support comes from those who have walked in your shoes.

Don't forget to treat yourself! Go to a nice restaurant from time to time; there are tons of amazing restaurants in D.C., and I think it's best if you have a small group to go with. Make it a sort of tradition; develop patterns from your week to week so you aren’t feeling so overwhelmed. Georgetown is amazing for fun nightspots and great restaurants, the atmosphere is great and there is never a lack of things to do! I think everyone who walks around there can see themselves living there at some point.


Remember that TWC is there for you! If you are feeling down, don't let your experience be ruined because of homesickness. The staff and your new friends are a great support.


Negative feelings have a tendency to snowball: you start off annoyed about a bus running late, and end up blaming an entire country and looking up the cheapest flights home. This is natural, but it can get out of control quickly, if you allow it to. So, what's the best way to counter the negative emotion avalanche effect? All together now: with positive emotions! If you're feeling grumpy all the time, try carrying around a little notebook where you write down one nice thing every day. Keeping a record of things that make you smile will provide you with incontestable proof that there are positive aspects to where you live - so the next time you feel like everything is terrible, all you have to do is look at your notebook or camera to prove to yourself that plenty of things that are actually pretty great.

Homesickness is a very real anxiety issue, but it's not one that has to hold you back. Everyone gets through feeling homesick at his or her own pace, and it's not a process you can rush. Remember, it's a very normal and completely understandable reaction to moving away, and it's okay to miss home once in awhile. Still, you don't want to spend all of your time wishing you were somewhere else, so don't let a few weeks of homesickness bring you down. Whether you choose to follow some of these tips or come up with your own strategies, do what you can to make your study abroad or Washington, D.C. experience a time filled with good memories that you'll later look back on with a smile. Who knows -- maybe by the time you go back, you'll be homesick for your new home instead!

Some of these tips might seem a little much, but I have seen these tips work, and I know the positive impact they can have on the many students I have lived, studied and worked with around the world.

Read Rahul's previous blog posts here

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