Homesickness: Life of students outside their home country
Awareness Education

Homesickness: Life of students outside their home country


The journey to study or live in a new country is an exhilarating adventure filled with promises of discovery, growth and endless opportunities. However, with excitement comes a deeply experienced human emotion that is caused by geographical boundaries: homesickness.

Homesickness as defined in layman’s language is a feeling of stress or anxiety that is caused by separation from an individual’s original hometown or people that belong there. It is one of the common experiences among students who live abroad or away from their country. Homesickness is nearly a longing for a physical place, it is an experience filled with emotions, related to memories, comfort, and the warmth of Home. It is a short-term issue and fortunately fades away gradually. In this article, we will be discussing the universal phenomenon of Homesickness, as a challenge of international education or relocation.

What is Homesickness?

The term homesickness refers to the distress or longing felt by an individual when they are away from their familiar or cherished environment such as their home, family or country. It involves feelings of sadness, loneliness, and the longing for comfort and similarity to one’s home or usual surroundings. Psychologically home sickness is often seen as a form of separation, and anxiety is particularly common among individuals experiencing significant changes in geographical surroundings. This separation can trigger emotional responses, including a sense of disconnection, difficulty, adjusting to new surroundings and hearing to return to the place associated with comfort and security. Psychologists recognise homesickness as a legitimate, emotional response to change involving a grieving process from what one has left behind. moreover, homesickness can also manifest due to reasons like cultural differences, language barriers, or lack of social support.

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Symptoms of Homesickness:

The symptoms of homesickness in students navigating life outside their home, country often manifest as an emotional imbalance. Some of the symptoms include:

  1. A feeling of loneliness and longing for family or familiar surroundings
  2. Emotional distress, along with feelings of sadness, and tearfulness due to the separation from Home
  3. Struggle with adjusting to the new environment, leading to a sense of disconnection or alienation
  4. It also includes physical symptoms, such as change in appetite, difficulty sleeping, or low energy level
  5. The cognitive skills of an individual including attention or concentration on the studies or participating in social activities or impaired because of the emotional strength and feeling of isolation
  6. Due to the cultural differences, a sense of being disconnected from the local culture or difficulty assimilating with new customers or traditions, the individuals find themselves unfit for various settings
  7. Increased irritability, mood swings for emotional sensitivity in response to daily stressors or challenges
  8. Seeking excessive communication with family and friends back home as a means of comfort and

All the symptoms highlight the emotional challenges faced by students, adjusting to a new life away from their familiar environment.

Impact on Students:

Leaving away from home, especially in a foreign country can impact individuals commonly students in various aspects. Academically, homesickness, often acts as a silent disruptor, affecting concentration, motivation and overall performance. The constant learning of familiarity can serve as a persistent distraction, making it challenging for a student to focus during lectures or study sessions. Decreased motivation due to a feeling of sadness or isolation can diminish the drive to Excel academically. Emotionally, homesickness triggers a load of negative feelings such as sadness, anxiety and loneliness that can significantly impact students’ mental well-being.

Separation from the family environment and loud ones lead to a sense of sadness which can evolve into episodes of anxiety due to the uncertainty in the new environment. The emotional distress along with the absence of support, network contributes to the feeling of loneliness. Socially, integrating into a new social environment because of differences in culture or language can increase the feeling of Homesickness. The emotional burden of longing for Home can make it difficult for them to engage fully, hindering their ability to form meaningful relationships. The struggle to connect might lead to isolation, decreasing their efforts to establish friendships and build connections with peers, ultimately impacting their sense of belongingness and social experience overall.

Coping Strategies:

Here are some of the coping strategies for dealing with Homesickness:

  • Connecting with students, clubs, or groups to increase connections on mutual understanding
  • Seeking guidance and support from a university, counsellor or mentor
  • Utilising technology such as video calls, messaging, apps or social media to bridge the distance and stay emotionally connected
  • communicating with people on a regular basis about your feelings and emotions in order to decrease the feeling of loneliness.
  • engaging in local activities, cultural events and new experiences to emerge in the country’s environment
  • Learn about the culture, traditions and customs to increase the sense of belongingness and broaden your perspective.
Summing up:

Living abroad mostly as a student is a great opportunity, but at the same time, it comes with a feeling of homesickness. Homesickness as a feeling can affect an individual in various aspects of life, mostly socially. Maintaining a connection with other students staying in touch with family and exploring the new place helps. Homesickness is okay and dealing with it by talking and trying new things makes it easier. The journey of living abroad is tough as well as adventurous, so it is important to make the most of it even if we are a little bit scared because a little amount of fear makes an adventure more fun.

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