Whether you’ve taken the leap to go to uni from Rotherham or you’re doing a Year Abroad in Japan, leaving home is a big step. Whether home is your favourite place with your favourite people in the world, or it’s somewhere you can’t wait to escape, it’s likely that at some point you will miss home. Here are just some tips that I would recommend to help get you through and help you to fully enjoy your experience away from home.
1) Take little reminders of home with you:
This is quite dependent on where you’re going but can range from taking your favourite duvet to a teddy bear or a special mug. It can be reminders using any of your senses, from smells (using the same detergent your mum uses is a strangely popular one) to sounds (e.g. radio). Anything that reminds you of home can make it seem less far away and make your new environment seem more natural. If it helps and it’s reasonable to take, I’d say take it. For my Year Abroad in Spain this year, I took my large Olaf cuddly toy given to me by my boyfriend (Olaf and I had great fun taking selfies for this blog, as shown above). Definitely worth every square centimeter of precious suitcase space and the weird looks from airport security. Little reminders can also include food. If you’re always rummaging the cupboard at home for chocolate bars or crisps, why not make your own stash of your favourite food? (This is particularly great for when you’re abroad and the food may not be the same as your favourite types at home!) If you’re lucky, you could even ask someone at home to cook some meals for you to freeze and to reheat later when you’re craving a taste of home.
2) Display some of your favourite photos and cards:
Choose some of your favourite photos that remind you of when you were happy and display them around your room. It’s rather cheesy, but seeing photos in my room of me with friends doing a variety of things from bungee jumping to clubbing and having dinner party gatherings really helps me to ground myself. The photos remind me of some of the amazing friends I have made over the years, and also some of my achievements that I never thought I could or would have achieved until I did. I have also received some of the most thoughtful cards from friends and colleagues with really touching messages inside which I put on my shelf and read whenever I need a motivational lift.
3) Keep up with your hobbies (or pick up a new one!):
Keeping up with an old hobby is a great way of immersing yourself into familiar territories. This could be things like going for a run, joining an art group or even something simple like re-watching HIMYM. On the other hand, you can also try something new and make new friends whilst you’re doing so. I was a bit lost about what to do with myself the other week so I went out and bought a cheap ukulele. A few hours later, I was singing away to myself in my room playing the Disney Lava Song (if you haven’t watched the video, you should, highly recommend it) and made some new friends with the guys in the flat next door who heard me singing (cringe but yay to the new friends). Being abroad, I’ve also found language tandems to be great as it improves my Spanish in a casual environment and I get to mix with all different types of people that are not students.
4) Keep in contact with your friends and family:
Whenever I’m feeling particularly lonely or lost, I always put some hints to my friends (or straight-out call them) and sure enough, I’ll normally receive a face-time call, where within an hour we’ll be laughing over something seemingly so trivial that all my other worries will seem far away. Without trying to sound like an old person, technology these days is great. Although it’s not as perfect as being in the arms of your boyfriend as he sings to you (jokes, I never get sung to), a Skype call with your friends and other loved ones can make them feel a lot closer to you. (Chances are that they miss you lots as well and would love to know how you’re getting along!)
5) Connect with the people around you:
It is highly likely that wherever you have ended up, other people nearby are away from home as well. Sharing the experience with others is a great way to make it all seem more normal and cope better with the changes. It is often reassuring to hear that others are feeling the same way. Together you can exchange top tips and also do things together to take your mind off things! From a weekend to trip to Portugal and a colour run to dressing up as a strawberry for Halloween, I’ve found doing new things a great way to making new friends. If you’re away from home, it’s also likely that there’s a lot of exploring to do in your new environment!
6) Look after yourself:
Lastly, whether you’re a well-seasoned traveler or this is the first time away from home, you need to remember to look after yourself. You can’t enjoy and get the most out of being away from home if you’re ill (and being ill away from home is not fun). Remember to have some ME time to chill. This can be different depending on the person and can include reading a book, playing computer games or doing a mini makeover. When you enter a new environment, it is also very common to experience more feelings of FOMO (=Fear of Missing Out) as there appears to be new and exciting things happening everywhere. Whilst it is great to try new things, you need to strike the balance between trying EVERYTHING and refusing to socialise. Missing the odd night out with the lads won’t make them hate you, but never leaving the house after 5pm may earn you some strange looks as well. If you don’t feel like doing a particular activity, why not offer an alternative? You may not fancy pub golf the weekend before your dissertation is due, but a coffee and catch-up may be a good break from writing!
I hope that something in this blog will make your time away from home easier. Let me know in the comments if you find anything else works well for you! In the meantime, happy travels everyone! 🙂