How to Cope with Homesickness

Homesickness is one of the most common challenges when coming to university, especially at a place like McGill that has such a large international population. According to, “homesickness can arise from a number of different factors: difficulty adjusting to a new environment, feeling lonely or cut off from your regular support system, confusion or problems understanding a new environment/culture/language, a perceived lack of control over what’s happening around you, culture shock, and the list goes on.” Luckily, we have some tips to help cope with homesickness:

Find places to explore in Montreal (or whatever new place you’re living in). Make a list of things you want to do or see, things you’re actually interested in; if you like doing touristy things, get tickets for the big attractions. If you prefer just spending the afternoon in a coffee shop reading a book, then find a list of the best cafes in your city. If you love theater, find some local plays happening; if you want to be active, find a local park to run or bike in. No matter what you do, you’re helping embrace the new place you’re in while still pursuing interests you had back home. It’s easy to stay inside texting and calling your old friends, but by getting out and experiencing where you are, you can appreciate all that this new country has to offer as well as distract yourself from thinking too much about home.

Another strategy is making your new home feel more like…well, home. If you’ve brought decoration or photos with you, hang them up as little reminders of home. Buy a few things to help make your house or apartment more comfortable for you…perhaps this means soft blankets and fairy lights or perhaps this just means a good set of knives for cooking. Having a place that you’re happy to come home to can be helpful when feeling out of place in a new country.

Try taking social media breaks. While the internet is a great tool for staying in touch with people thousands of miles away, sometimes we can get too wrapped up in it and miss out on chances to really experience where we are. See if you can go several hours or even a day without checking Instagram, Facebook, etc. For some, this may be harder than others, but you may find that by not engaging, you’re able to take your mind off all the things you’re supposedly missing out on.

Don’t forget to pay attention to your mental and physical health. While you may have had healthy habits back home, the chaos of being in a new place can sometimes lead you to slip out of our routines. Whether it be going on daily runs, cooking with fresh produce, or regular meditation sessions, keep up a regular routine that you know will help you feel good. Neglecting your health will only worsen feelings of homesickness. Furthermore, keeping up old habits from home can help alleviate these feelings by providing you with a sense of familiarity.

Get involved in your community whether it be volunteering, pursuing a passion of yours, or taking up a new hobby! Not only is this a great way to meet people, but it will keep you busy and engaged in something you’re interested in.

Finally, don’t be afraid of these homesickness feelings when they do come. As stated before, they are a perfectly normal part of being somewhere new, whether for a short time or permanently. Allow yourself to be sad now and then, and don’t feel guilty if you want to indulge in something that reminds you from home.

These are just a few suggestions for coping with homesickness, but there are many others…each person has their own way of handling things. Homesickness may come and go, but with some work, you can equip yourself with the tools you need to cope with it.


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