5 Things To Do When You Get Homesick

Studying abroad is a time of sheer excitement. You have left your home and everything comfortable and familiar, and you have completely submerged yourself into something new and exciting. And for a while, everything is great. You are having the time of your life, and it seems as though nothing can hold you back. Then suddenly, BAM. It hits you. You realize you are living in a foreign country, alone, and it’s not all that exciting anymore. You miss home more than anything and you are almost ready to go back, all the new is suddenly too much to handle. This slum is rough, and for some it lasts weeks, and other it lasts just a few days. Here is a list of a few things that you can do to pull yourself out of this nasty slum, and get back to enjoying your study abroad experience.

1. Call Mom and Dad

I know you are an adult now and you are living in a foreign country and you are doing it all on your own, but it is absolutely okay to call your parents and let them know you miss them. They will love to hear you love and miss them, and chances are just the sound of their voice will make you feel better. Plus, as much as I hate to admit it, parents always give the best advice when you’re down. They have this strange power to know exactly what to say to lift your spirits.

Jordan and her family
Jordan and her family

2. Look at pictures

Scroll through the photo library on your phone or computer and look at some old photos. It will be nice to see some familiar faces of people you love, and chances are recalling some happy memories will make you smile.

3. Listen to your favorite song

Music is a magical thing. Nothing has the power to change your mood faster than a great song. Throw on some headphones, or plug in a speaker and blast your favorite song. It will make you smile and lift your spirits before the chorus, and you will definitely feel inspired and ready to take on the rest of your study abroad experience. Pro tip: Spotify premium is only $4.99 a month for students and lets you listen to all your favorite songs, even when you don’t have access to the internet. Best $4.99 I’ve ever spent.

4.Remember it’s not permanent

I recently got some great advice from a friend about dealing with homesickness. She reminded me that nothing is permanent. Sometimes, it is comforting to remember that YOU ARE NOT STUCK HERE. You can purchase a plane ticket and be home in 24 hours. Mind you, I’m not saying you should actually purchase the ticket and leave. In fact, you should absolutely stay and work through your feelings and figure it out. But, it is comforting to know in the back of your mind, that you are not stuck here forever.

5. Spend time with friends

Finally, spend some time with your new abroad friends. They are your own little family, and with them you will create your home away from home. Surround yourself with great people and positive vibes, and you won’t be down for long.

John Lennon says it best.
John Lennon says it best.
Your friends abroad truly become your family.
Your friends abroad truly become your family.

Time to Reflect…

We loved this particular post by a DU student currently in Argentina… she made two really great points:

“Being the foreign exchange student here has made me feel super guilty for how I have viewed foreign exchange students at DU. Probably 20% of DU is foreign students from China, and a lot of them are cliquey, and I haven’t tried to make any friends with them. I’ve found it a pain to work with people in classes who don’t speak English as well, because I was solely thinking about my grades. But now I’m in that exact position as the weird foreigner who cliques with the other foreigners, sits with the rest of the US kids, speaks English with the other exchange students, and am the one nobody wants in their group for class because I can’t do as quality work. I will never again take for granted how hard it is to switch cultures and be the foreign exchange student, and the intercambios at DU deserve so much more credit from students at DU.  DU prides itself in their inclusiveness, but I don’t think you can really understand the meaning of this until after studying abroad in a country with a different culture, different language, different customs…”

Argentinian street
Argentinian street, Photo by Rachel Firmin

“… It’s a trade off, choosing to travel or immerse myself completely into the city. It’s two different ways of experiencing Argentina and progressing my Spanish, and although I’ve seen amazing views, I wish I could say I’ve made lifelong Argentinian friendships, because I really haven’t. The people in my program are amazing, and we are already talking about reunions, but I can’t say that I have connected strongly with the people of Mendoza. This is probably the one major flaw in my experience abroad.”

You can read the full post here.  

Rachel’s blog: Mendoza, Argentina

Rachel is blogging from Mendoza, Argentina this fall semester.

Here is an excerpt from one of her recent posts.

“Sundays are big family days in Mendoza. It involves big family reunions, a lot of food, and a full day of Spanish practice for me. Today 18 people came over for lunch.  I woke up this morning to Carlina preparing for the big meal, and together we tried to fit a second table into the dining room through a doorway that was probably four inches too narrow to fit the table. We had to give up after taking it all apart and realizing that the frame of the table still wouldn’t fit. Instead we fit 18 people around their dining room table and one other small plastic table from outside.”

Check out her blog for her wonderful stories!


rachel firmin



Rayna’s blog: Mendoza, Argentina

“In a new place, situation, and/or language, you have to take a hard look at yourself because the rules that you’ve always lived by no longer apply. You realize that things that define you don’t translate. You are indefinable, or, at least constantly being redefined.”

Well said, Rayna!!!  Follow her while she is studying on the IFSA Mendoza Universities program, Argentina:  http://raynahealy.tumblr.com/

My Abroad: A Broad Overview

              It’s been three years, three months, twenty days, and roughly eleven hours since I stepped off the plane back from Buenos Aires, Argentina.  It was there that I chose to study abroad through the Cherington Global Scholars program at DU in the fall of 2008.  I reminisce often, both with friends and family, or just in my head.  It’s interesting looking back on it, mainly because I am in a completely different stage of my life now.  Since then, I have graduated from the University of Denver, attended and graduated from graduate school at Daniels College of Business, moved to Dallas, TX, lost my father to lung cancer, and landed a job at an advertising agency.  Needless to say, a lot has changed since my return home. 

                It literally feels like only yesterday when I was a 19 year old sophomore, living with my best friends in my fraternity house and enjoying every minute of it.  It seemed to be all anyone in my class could talk about: “Where are you going abroad?”  Prague, Barcelona, Rome, Paris, London, Sydney, Auckland, Capetown, Dubai, Beijing; the list went on and on.  I really thought long and hard on where I should go.  I had been fortunate enough growing up to have traveled to Europe three times before the age of 18 (two school trips, and a hockey trip).  I wanted to go somewhere I’d never been and somewhere off the beaten path. 

                I remember one day sitting in the I-House talking with my advisor and looking up at a sheet hanging on her wall.  It was a long list of global cities and next to it was the number of DU students that traveled there the previous semester.  Obviously the European cities were the big ones, Australia after that, and then I saw it: “Buenos Aires: 5”.  I had some decent Spanish under my belt and always enjoyed Spanish culture.  Up until that point, I hadn’t really thought about South America.  It seemed…not far away enough, if that makes sense.  I didn’t really know anything about it.  I gathered as much information as I could about Argentina, Chile and Brazil and rushed home to look into it. 

                Buenos Aires immediately went to the top of my list.  Everything about it sounded so…for the lack of a better word: awesome.  I’d be lying if I also didn’t choose it because no one else seemed to be going there.  Summer flew by and on July 31, 2008 I boarded a plane for Buenos Aires.

                Buenos Aires is a great enormous city.  In the beginning I often felt anxious and very overwhelmed.  Like I said earlier, my Spanish was pretty good, but that was only if the Spanish was coming from my high school Spanish teacher who was talking to me like a five year old and teaching me colors, numbers, or days of the week.  I knew how to read a map, but not what busses to take to get there.  I knew how to ask “Where am I?” but any answer I got made no sense as I had no frame of reference.  Anyone that says study abroad isn’t scary at times is lying.

                Eventually it all started making sense and it became routine.  That’s a guarantee.  One of my favorite things about studying abroad is that you meet people that you normally never would in the United States.  Obviously that applies to the natives of that city but I’m talking about the Americans.  Everyone was just…friendlier.  This is very simple.  It’s because you’re a bunch of twenty year olds in a foreign country, away from your family, your friends, your home, your favorite fast food, your pets, your car, your girlfriend or boyfriend, your favorite radio stations, most of your clothes, and so on and so on.  The only familiar thing with you is yourself.  That’s it.  I didn’t recognize it at first, but it was the most liberating experience of my entire life. 

                What I mean by “liberating” is that you’re completely set free from all of your “social baggage”.  (I know there’s a better word for this but it’s been four years since I took Sociology and I’m a little rusty.)  By “social baggage” I mean all of the things that society tends to define people with: your friends, your family, the car you drive, the people you date, the late night shenanigans you may or may not involve yourself with, the town you’re from, the money you do or don’t have, etc.  All of this didn’t really seem to matter in (Insert Your Destination Here).  The only thing that mattered was me, myself and I.  Everyone is in the same boat and so people are a lot less judgmental.  You really can be the person you want to be.  If you’re someone who already is the person they want to be than that’s fantastic.  But for me, it took living in South America to figure it out.  It isn’t real life almost. 

                I’m not someone who by any means, NEEDED to rid myself of my “social baggage”.  I’m just saying that it did feel like a weight was suddenly lifted off my shoulders.  For me personally, it was the first time I was completely and genuinely myself.  It was something I got used to; something I loved. Studying abroad changed me for the better because I allowed it to.  It wasn’t just a trip; it was a challenge to grow from the experience.  I still talk to and hang out with dozens of people I met there.  I even lived with one of the guys I met there when we got back for a year and a half. 

                Another unique aspect was that when we were all abroad, the recession hit.  I remember talking on Skype with a girl back home and her saying, “Yeah it’s pretty bad, everybody is really stressed out.”  I didn’t concern myself with it at the time and probably went back to watching Family Guy in Spanish.  While the US economy was collapsing, I was sitting on a beach in Brazil watching the sun come up.  When people were losing their savings left and right, I was hiking in the Andes.  When the stock market was crashing, I was on a 20-hour bus ride to the largest waterfall in the world.  And when the world was in a panic, I was falling in love with South America.  We all were, really.  

                 If you’re someone who is about to go abroad, I encourage you to not be swayed about where to go, and pick somewhere YOU want to go to.  You only do this kind of thing once.  When you go, don’t hold anything back and experience everything you can.  You don’t have to go on elaborate trips to have an experience.  You can have an experience anywhere if you have an open mind.  For those of you who have already been abroad, I encourage you to look at your time there and think about what it meant to you overall.  Or get in touch with someone you were friends with there and see what they’re doing nowadays.  You’d be surprised.


Jonathan Armstead, DU Study Abroad Alum, Bueno Aires ’08

“Life happens while we are making plans.”

“La vida pasa mientras hacemos planes.” (“Life happens while we are making plans.”) I couldn’t have stumbled upon a better quote as I try to make what has proven to be a difficult cultural adjustment. In Argentina life happens – without notice, without careful planning, and sometimes without reason. And although I’ve never been comfortable living like this before, I’m learning (slowly) to fly by the seat of my pants and to live on the edge. I’m becoming a born-again TYPE-B.

Check out Mariah’s ponderings on being a “Type-A” personality in a “Type-B” country: