A Homebody Abroad

Abbey Pignatari is a student at the University of Wisconsin – Platteville and is an ISA Featured Blogger. She is interning abroad with ISA in Dublin, Ireland. 

It is crazy to think that I have been in Dublin, Ireland for just over four weeks! The time is flying by, and I am trying to make sure I make the most of my time here. We have gone on many weekend trips, visited numerous museums, and enjoyed some truly grand restaurants. All of these activities, plus my internship, have been keeping me on my toes, but I still find myself sometimes missing home.

I am definitely a big family person, so coming abroad was a big, and well-worth it step for me. Being in a different country while family events happen back home can be tough, though. I usually find myself missing home most when I see pictures of my family together for events (i.e. my brother’s college graduation, my cousin’s second birthday party, and annual hot wheel car races). Though it is difficult being so far away from my family during these events, I have found ways to cope with the homesickness and still make the most out of my time here on the emerald isle.

These methods might not work for everyone, but they are worth trying if you are missing home.

  • Using a goofy family picture as the wallpaper on my phone – I changed my phone wallpaper shortly after arriving in Ireland. My brother graduated college the week after I got settled in, and that was a hard event for me to miss. I was definitely missing family that day because I would not be there to celebrate his graduation with them. I found myself looking through family photos on my phone to remind me of home. I decided to change the wallpaper on my phone to a silly picture of them. Now, I get a smile on my face every time I open my phone because there is a fun, goofy picture of my family!               
  • Downloading apps to make communication easy and fun – I was not really sure what I needed to do for a phone plan before coming to Ireland. I talked with my phone company, and they gave us a few recommendations of what we could do. I opted to get an Irish SIM card so my boss would be able to reach me if needed. The SIM card gave me talk and text between other Irish phones but not with home. I wanted to be able to talk and text with family and friends, so I played around with a few apps. I found three that have worked quite well for me so far:

 Facebook Messenger – Messenger works well for both instant messaging and calling. It allows for video chats, which has been nice for when I want to show my family something, and audio calling. I would always call my parents or brother when walking home from work at school, and this allows me to do that when I am commuting home from my internship. The connection is not always the best, but I would say that 90% of the time I have little to no issues.

WhatsApp – This has worked well for messaging others in my program group or coworkers, but it has not allowed me to make calls, supposedly one of its features. It works really well for both group communication and individual communication. Since I use Messenger, I do not worry too much about the calls not working, but it is something to consider trying to make sure it works for you.

Marco Polo – I like to describe this app as a video voicemail. I like it because it allows me to send a video to individuals and groups, and the video is sent and stored for the person to read when they have the chance. Unlike Snapchat videos, these will stay for the person to rewatch as many times as they want. It is nice for when I am traveling or even just sitting at home.

  • Travel, explore, and post pictures – This is one of the best ways, I have found, to help with homesickness. Travel around the country or around the city, but make sure to take lots of pictures when you do. They will not only help to preserve the memories, but they will also make it easy to share with your family what you have been up to, another way to stay in touch! The reason I think it has worked well for me is because after I go travel or explore a new area of the city, I can post pictures to social media and send them to my family and friends. I like to be able to share what I am doing with them, so they can stay up to date with my trip and enjoy the beautiful scenery just as I have.

Studying abroad as a homebody is more than worth the experience. I think it has helped me feel more confident independent in my professional life as I gain knowledge and appreciation for a new culture. I hope some or all of these tips help for when you may be missing home a little extra some days.

 

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