Exchange View: Working Through Homesickness and Winter Blues

Exchange view, Features, Self-help

Vol 26, Issue 21, 28 March 2024

Dealing with homesickness and the winter blues is something that comes with the title of an exchange semester or even studying abroad. No matter how much fun you are having and how much time you spend away from home, that little feeling can pop up at any time without warning. In this article, you can pick a few or even all of the tips listed to combat the not-so-friendly foes, homesickness & winter blues.

Disclaimer, it’s important to know that when you feel this way, it is a normal human response and that you are not alone. However, if you feel extremely overwhelmed to a debilitating extent or it is affecting your daily life, it’s ok to reach out and talk to a professional or loved one about it because your feelings matter and are valid.

Let’s jump right in. Sure, you already know this one but being away from home does not mean you have to cut off your family, in fact, it is probably impossible because they miss you too. So, tip number one is to keep in touch with family and friends back home, and have scheduled or regular phone calls, video calls, or messaging. Sharing your feelings with loved ones can provide more comfort and support than you could imagine.

Another way is to try and stick to a daily routine, with the exception of the resting Sundays where you probably want to spend some time in bed and watch Netflix of course. Having a routine can give you structure, offering a feeling of being a little more grounded. This could mean pursuing those hobbies and daily activities that you sometimes push to the back of your mind.

The winter blues can force you to just want to disappear in your blankets, valid, however going outside and allowing yourself to get hit by that fresh cold breeze can be so refreshing. It can lift your mood as well as your energy levels. So, bundle up, grab a friend if you want to, and take a short walk, go to an ice hockey game, or if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, try a winter sport like skiing or ice skating.

Winter blues can take a toll on your thought process, so practicing self-care is imperative to keep yourself motivated. Take good care of yourself because there is only one of you, this can be physical self-care, mental self-care, or even emotional self-care. This could include visiting the gym or doing activities that bring you joy, making sure you get enough sleep, practice mindfulness and positive thinking or meditation. The most satisfying is taking an aromatherapy shower or just a simple exfoliating hot shower with your favorite products; put it in your schedule and commit to it, show up for yourself, and your body & mind will feel so uplifted. Throw in a face mask if you can, you’ll feel refreshed, and as a bonus, your skin will be glowing and thanking you.

In addition to this, you do need some time to rejuvenate so don’t feel ashamed if you just need a day to yourself and cuddle up in bed with a good book or a movie and some snacks. So light up a candle, turn on your fairy lights if you have some, and take some time off, you deserve to unwind. Remember, adjusting to a new environment takes time. Don’t forget it’s normal to feel homesick during your semester abroad especially in the winter months, but trust that these feelings will pass with time, so be patient with yourself.