I love the exchange student life. It has so many positive things to offer me. Language, friendships, all of the little cultural traits. 90% of the time, I feel on top of the world here. I’m a more optimistic person in general. I’ve fallen back in love with life.
But sometimes I inevitably feel acutely homesick. It hits at the weirdest times, too. And so I’ve, through trial and error, established a few things that I can do to make myself feel less homesick. I hope that these will help anyone else struggling through exchange (or really any other bout of homesickness) pull through it all. Because the number one thing I’ve learned about homesickness is that it does get better.
- · Usually when the Hurricane of Homesickness hits I just want to batten down the hatches and hide until the storm passes. But the truth is that this is probably the least effective way to get over whatever the problem at hand is. If I wallow in my room moping, I can’t move on because the impending problem is in my face. So yes, my advice here is to just ignore the problem at hand. Stick your fingers in your ears and sing LALALALALALALA and go out and live your life. Get over yourself, and you’ll be a happier exchange student. Because you’ve only got 10 months and you might as well be happy during it. Make yourself be happy. In this case, I just leave my room and go out and sit with some host family members. If I’m at school, I’ll get up from my desk and go talk to a friend.
- · There are a few songs that, for me, are like comfort food (though I don’t recommend stress eating while on exchange because people like to feed exchange students anyways). These songs can bring a smile to my face. Some of them are those obnoxious types that just sing over and over that “things will get better!” and are actually ridiculously helpful in pulling me out of the slumps. I like That’s Life by Michael Bublé, Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey, Play On by Carrie Underwood, Angels by Robbie Williams, The Other Side of Down by David Archuleta, Long Live by Taylor Swift, Good Place by David Archuleta, Dog Days are Over by Florence + The Machine, and a bunch more. Generally I avoid any songs titled “Home” because they don’t help at all.
- · Read back through your journal. Before exchange I never actively kept a journal but I really recommend it for any exchange students. I’m the type of person to notice patterns and it really helps to see that every time I was homesick before I felt better soon after.
- · I like to remember the inane happiness that I felt last spring and summer about coming to Oman. I was absolutely psyched and sometimes it helps to remember why I wanted to come here in the first place. It also helps me to think about how absolutely lucky I am to have this opportunity. I mean, how many high school students can say they’ve been an exchange student in Oman? I think it’s about 9, so it helps me to remember how lucky I am to have this experience.
- · Study the heck out of that language! I always feel better if I feel like I’ve accomplished something. What better to have accomplished than learning the word for olive in Arabic? Or orange? Or hungry? (In Oman, food is love). The same goes for learning about Islam or Omani culture. I love to sit and talk to my host family about that kind of thing.
- · There are certain things that remind me of home but not in a homesick kind of a way. For example, my parents sent me a Christmas box that included a gingerbread house kit with five mini-houses. So my four host sisters and I had a fun evening putting those together. That kind of thing makes me think of home but in a way that’s more happy than regretful. I can have the good things of home while I’m in Oman!
- · Sometimes if I’m really feeling homesick, I like to list all of the things at home that I just do not want to deal with: Nellie’s trumpeting, walking the dog in 5 degree weather, slush, and cleaning the garage to name a few. This is actually pretty helpful J I also remember how absolutely crazy America is right now in so many ways (from what the news says, it’s a big Republicanpartynomiation-badeconomy-celebritymess-coldweather-corruptpoliticians sort of a place right now).
And so this is just a portion of the list of how I deal with homesickness. Needless to say, overall the year is absolutely going wonderfully and I am a bit shocked that we are quite near the halfway point of this adventure!