How do you deal with homesickness when you’re studying in Australia?
You’ve got your confirmation of enrollment, your short-term accommodation arranged, and you’re almost packed and ready to go.
Have you forgotten anything?
Believe it or not, one of the most frequent concerns OzTREKK students encounter is homesickness. In theory, you feel prepared for your journey to Australia, and you’re excited to begin this new stage in your life, so it may come as a surprise to you to find you are missing family members and the comforts of home more than you expected.
This is totally normal!
In general, homesickness kicks in as soon as the frenetic pace of starting your classes and familiarizing yourself with your campus has morphed into routine. What then?
Well, first, it can be very helpful to not ignore the possibility of homesickness before you leave. People think it won’t happen to them and that’s the first big mistake. If you accept the fact that you might be homesick, it will make things easier. Being prepared helps, too.
Because we love to stay in touch with our students, many have shared their tips to deal with homesickness when they’re studying in Australia, and of course we’re going to share them with you!
Bring the familiar
Sometimes just the sight of photos of your family members is enough to snap you out of the homesickness funk. If there is something small and light that can fit easily into your suitcase and you think it will help, bring it along!
Of course you already know this one! Skype gives you instant access to family and friends back home, and it’s cheap. Once you’ve figured out the time zone differences, you’re good to go!
Explore your surroundings
You’re in your room, staring at the wall. It’s time to get out of there! When feeling homesick, one of the worse things you can do is to mope around feeling sorry for yourself. Getting out of your place and exploring your city is a great distraction from any home-related anxieties. It also helps you become familiar with your surroundings and that in itself can be comforting. Take some time to stroll through the park or the area where you live. Actually look at the buildings. Find one near your home that will help be a beacon of familiarity.
Look after yourself
If you’re stuffing your face with junk food and forgetting to exercise, you can bet your mental health will be heading into a downward spiral. And if that happens, who will have the energy or desire to study? It sounds simple, but eating healthily and getting some exercise and regular sleep can really help to boost your well-being.
Give yourself time and praise
Okay, it’s been two weeks and you still haven’t snapped out of it. No worries. Have a good cry. Take an evening to yourself to examine your reason for being in Australia: to study and to get that degree! That in itself is an amazing, brave thing, so be proud of yourself. Do you know how many people are too scared to do what you’ve just done? Give yourself a pat on the back and know that you have what it takes to not only get your degree, but also to have an great time doing it! Positive self-talk is healthy and will counteract the negative emotions you may be feeling.
Meet other Canadians
Know that you’re not alone. Meeting fellow Canadians is an instant pick-me-up. OzTREKK hosts orientation sessions for new students, giving them an immediate access to multiple Canadian connections on campus. We also provide you with a “Student Contact List” that lists everyone who is in your university and program. Not everyone chooses to attend our orientations or to be on this list, but we recommend that you do! If you’re interested, please be sure to contact your OzTREKK admissions officer. And guess what? This also gives you the opportunity to support others who may be feeling homesick.
One day at a time
Sometimes it’s easier to take it one day at a time. Setting mini-goals or achievements for your stay helps, too! It might be helpful to take each part of the process in steps: Made it to Vancouver, made it to Sydney, made it to the hotel. Day one done, day two done, etc. It’s a handy little trick and before you know it, you’re on day 248. Easy-peasy.
Keep a journal or a blog
Another handy-dandy OzTREKK student tip? Writing in a journal or starting an “Adventures in Australia” blog or vlog is an excellent way to keep track of your progress—and to share your experiences with everyone back home. If you can regularly keep up with an online blog (even Facebook or Twitter posts), you will receive encouraging messages from everyone! At the end of your journey, you will have an amazing record of your time in Australia. Show your grandkids. Also, we love following our students on social media!
Ask for help
Sometimes, even after attempting the above, you still may find yourself missing home a little too much, and this is where Anxiety likes to step in and reek havoc. Worrying about your studies or your finances will only make things worse, so take steps to sort any issues out or get support as soon as they arise. Your university has international student support groups, as well as student groups. Ask your university for a list of groups or student counsellors or upper-year students who may be able to help, then contact them!
Even though it may feel like it sometimes, you’re not alone. Many people have endured homesickness and have come out on the other side happier, stronger, and braver. You can do it!