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Living Away from Home: 5 Ways to Avoid Homesickness and Find Happiness in Independence

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SFU chapter.

Living away from home for the first time is difficult no matter how far away you move. For me, it didn’t help that my first time truly living away from home was over 7,000 kilometers away in Galway, Ireland. While my experience abroad was the best time of my life, my path to get there was anything but smooth sailing. At the beginning, I was filled with homesickness, regret, and self-doubt. However, as a gradual process, I discovered my own strength and realized I was never truly alone. Here is a list of a few of my tips for banishing those homesick blues.


1) Stay in Contact with Home

Just because you’re in another city, country, or continent doesn’t mean you are shut off from home. Schedule regular FaceTime dates or phone calls with those you love back home. They will be the first to tell you that you are never alone.


2) Involve Yourself

Just because you have contact with home doesn’t mean they should be your only contact. Face-to-face interactions are important in warding off loneliness. If you’re studying abroad, talk to students in your class, join clubs, and attend nights-out. Travelling by yourself? Talk to those in your hostel or on tour groups. Socialization is directly connected to emotional well being and is important in order for you to feel comfortable wherever you are in the world.


3) Note everything you are accomplishing by yourself

When handling all life matters by yourself for the first time, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Even more than that, it’s easy to fall into self-deprecation mode and focus on everything you feel you either can’t do, or are doing wrong. Get registered at a new bank by yourself? Navigate your way through visa/immigration procedures? Navigate your way through an airport solo? Give yourself a pat on the back for the smaller goals so that you can work up your confidence before tackling the even bigger stuff.


4) Do things that make you happy

When you’re at home, daily activities often become routine: go to school, go to the gym, study, etc. However, living away from home often gives you the chance to do things you never thought to do at home. Join an obscure club, go to pub nights, try new activities, scope out new cafés. Carve out time for doing things that you want to do as much as you carve out time for the things you have to do.


5) Make your new home feel like home

Although I don’t recommend spending a lot of time in your new apartment/home to begin with (the urge to stay in bed and feel lonely won’t help anything), it is important for you to feel at ease when you are staying in for the night. Hang pictures, place some pillows and blankets around, in other words; organize things like your mom. Anything to make a newly-vacated apartment feel like it’s yours will help you be at peace.


When I began living away from home, I had a tendency to rely on others for my happiness. I would wait for outside forces to change my mood, and felt I had no control when I was placed outside of my comfort zone. One of the most important lessons I learned from living on my own was to not rely on anyone else for my emotions. Instead, I learned to make myself happy. Once I realized that I was in charge and capable, well, the rest is history. That’s not to say I don’t ever get homesick when I’m away. But what helps me get up when I’m down is knowing that I am in control, and that the feeling is temporary.

Remember to take a deep breath and enjoy yourself. There is no “wrong” way to do things. Living away from home for the first time is a learning process. What a that means is that there is help available (don’t let pride get in the way of calling mom or dad for assistance!). Most importantly, have fun and enjoy your newfound freedom.

Laura is a third-year Linguistics major at Simon Fraser University who has ambitions to become a Speech-Language Pathologist. She has studied in both Ireland and Scotland and is often asked "how long are you home this time?" for her inability to shake the travel bug. Her other passions include musical theatre and spending time with her best friends; Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, and Joey. She can be followed further on Instagram at @lauradandy.
Terri is currently a fourth-year Communication major at Simon Fraser University and Campus Correspondent for Her Campus SFU. Hailing from Hong Kong and raised in Vancouver, she has grown to love the outdoors and mountains of BC. Her favourite pastimes are reading historical fiction, hiking, lying on the beach drinking mojitos and attempting to snowboard. You can get to know her more on Instagram and Twitter at @terriling.