​Office News November: Managing Homesickness

Monday ​31st October 2016

This month the sun is rising later and the evenings draw in sooner meaning we are all waking up and going home in the dark. Personally I love winter, OK so the rain I don't enjoy so much, but generally it’s a time for families to enjoy the comforts of home and hearty winter food. We are building up to Christmas and all the joy it has to offer.

Our students have now been in the UK over two months so hopefully the routines of life in the UK seem comfortable and they are seeing the development of their language skills and their confidence will be growing, however, this could be the time when the newness of the programme starts to fade and thoughts of home creep in. Therefore, we want to offer some advice to students, families and Reps about homesickness and possible signs that might be evident.


Homesickness is an anxiety or stress which can develop when you feel disconnected or separated from home. It often begins when you suffer from culture shock and negatively compare things, situations or practices that differ from your home country. Comparing your situation is a very natural part of your experience and it is interesting and useful, however, if you start viewing these changes as negative in your new place compared to your home, that is a time to stop and think about homesickness.

How it feels

You may feel lonely, isolated, cut off or confused with a desire to go back to ‘normal’. You may suffer anywhere from mild to severe homesickness and it may come and go. Either way it feels that you are yearning for familiar things. You feel that nothing is as good as things at home, it could be food or how your new culture operates or what your school is like or even just missing your usual TV programmes. Telling people that you think everything in your home country is better and that things here are not as good can also be upsetting to those you are talking to which can cause conflict and increase loneliness.

How to overcome homesickness

Be open minded. Accept that things will be different, and that is the purpose of your trip. Understanding how different cultures operate is one of the major long term advantages of this experience.

Keep yourself busy. Often having too much time on your own or unoccupied can lead you to reflect on your life at home. It may be hard but force yourself to keep busy and this will keep homesickness at bay.

Don’t spend all our time speaking to family and friends at home. More than ever communication is accessible at any time and anywhere. Try and keep your contact with home to once a week, this way you will have more to say when you do. Also remember all the time you are on the phone to friends and family at home, you are not speaking English, and you are not involving yourself in your life in the UK with your host family and friends.

Take photos and write a journal. I promise you faithfully a little time doing this now will provide you with a log of your memories for the rest of your life. Write good things and bad. If you feel really keen write a blog for us to link to our website. Being published as a trusted blogger for MyEducation UK will look great on a university application or job interview.

Commit. You have spent months preparing for your experience, your parents have agonised over whether you will be OK, your school at home has supported your decision to do an exchange and all of your friends back home are wishing they had done it too. Commit to the programme until the end.​

Sena from Japan enjoying time with Area Rep and their family. It's good to talk.

Things to Remember

If you feel homesick then it is very important that you tell someone how you are feeling. Our families and Area Reps are very experience and have a strong understanding of the challenges you may face while studying overseas, but they can only help if you talk with them and tell them your difficulties. They may not always give you the answer you want - they will not encourage you to give up or take the easy route, but they will give you good advice that you should consider and follow.

Remember undertaking a year or semester abroad is an incredibly brave thing, one of the most valuable elements is learning how to overcome problems and realising how resourceful you really are - praise yourself for this resourcefulness. You can only achieve this if you face issues and work to resolve them.

This time next year you will be at home. I promise you you will then miss things about the UK and you remember all the wonderful things you have done and seen. Many of our students get to the end of the programme and want to stay longer or have a plan as to when they will come back to visit.

Brilliant way to cherish your memories. Thank you to Amane from Japan and Lisa from Italy.​

Any challenges that you face during the exchange will become insignificant when you reminisce over your time away. Make the most of the time you have on exchange and talk to the people around you if you begin to find anything difficult. We are here to help and to make this experience the one you have dreamed of.

Best wishes,

Sally and Nicky

We are always delighted to hear from anyone who would like to become a Host Family or an Area Representative. For information on both roles check out our Host A Student section on our website or call the office on 0238 0970 924.​

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Upper Market Street,

Eastleigh, Hampshire,
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