Julia Chernicky is a student at the University of Pittsburgh and an ISA Featured Blogger. Julia is currently studying abroad with ISA in Granada, Spain.
Isn’t it crazy how we fight to get away from home, to be free, and find ourselves missing it once we finally escape? I have come to the conclusion that homesickness is unavoidable. After five months in a foreign country, I have succumbed to the fact that there are certain comforts that can not be replaced. Memories, mostly, but also long hot showers and dryers and my favorite local restaurants. Do not get me wrong, I love traveling! I would not want to live in another country and find it the same as mine; That lends no hand to growth and learning. Yet, I appreciate the fact that it is teaching me to love home as much as I love to travel. This is not my first time abroad, but it is certainly the longest. For those experiencing a new culture for the first time, or if this is the longest you have been away from your dog, here are some tips to cure your homesickness!
1. Stay busy! You do not want to return home without any stories of humorous adventures in a foreign land. Dwelling on how much you miss Chipotle will not make it appear in front of you. I know because I have tried. I have never regretted leaving my apartment for a walk along the river, or even to stroll around to window shop. New experiences are not always planned, but they can always be found.
2. Make new friends! Whether they’re Spanish, German, American or English, it is highly unlikely that the person standing next to you is from your home country. This means they have different viewpoints, strange and beautiful stories, intriguing backgrounds and family history. Learn about them, and humbly share your stories about your own experiences and traditions. It is truly incredible the amount of people you can meet on your time abroad! Go to bars, join a sports club, volunteer, sign up for an “intercambio.” Whatever you desire, it is easy to get involved through all that ISA offers, and meet life long friends in the mean time.
3. Be brave! My friend and I took a Pilates class at the gym we joined for a month. I have taken Pilates classes before. There is nothing new to me, except for this time because it was taught in Spanish! I am at an intermediate level and figured I could follow along well enough, and decided to give it a try. It was a beautiful mess. The instructor spent most of his time fixing the new American students hunched posture and pointed feet, but we giggled the entire way through. The instructor was strict and fun, and even knew some English. I left the class with sore abs, relaxed muscles, and a little more practical knowledge of Spanish. The teacher even invited us to a free session for one of his flamenco classes in an elite studio! Remember, the only thing to fear is fear itself!
What were we talking about? Homesickness? No way! I am having too much fun to go home yet!
“Home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling” -Cecelia Ahern
“One never reaches home,’ she said. ‘But where paths that have an affinity for each other intersect, the whole world looks like home, for a time.” -Hermann Hesse
I studied abroad 4 years ago in Granada and agree that homesickness is inevitable. I know I will feel homesick once again as I leave to teach English in Spain for a year in September. All your ideas of avoiding homesickness are great ones. I’m glad you’re enjoying your time in Granada! I miss it everyday.