Missing Home versus Leaving for Home

There is a major difference between missing home and wanting to return to home before the intended date. Being homesick is a natural feeling while on a study abroad program. For many students, it is not only the furthest that they have been from home but it is also the furthest that they have been away for family and for that long of a time. Some students thrive while others face challenges – the key is not convincing yourself to leave before your intended departure date.

My family hosted a girl from China my junior year in college. She quickly took over my room as she became settled in her American routine of taking the bus to get to the community college in town during the day while my parents worked. What started out as a pleasant experience for all gradually turned into something a bit different. In the United States, family members – particularly host family members, do not receive any information regarding a student’s grades unless the student writes specifically to the school allowing the information to be shared. This resulted in my parents, who both had full-time jobs, to have no knowledge that the Chinese girl was not attending her courses – and when she was, was not participating (courses are structured differently in the United States than in China). While it was eventually realized that this girl lacked the necessary English listening and speaking skills to do well at the program she was at, a part of the situation was also that she was extremely homesick. She would spend hours each day reading articles in Chinese, video chatting or talking on the phone with loved ones back home. The young Chinese woman left our home shortly before Thanksgiving, after a mere three months of being in the United States, to spend the rest of the semester at home before trying to study in the United States again in January – but this time at a school that offered an English as a Second Language program in addition to the courses.

It is important to remember that people who suffer from homesickness while abroad are not alone. Being homesick at some stage while studying abroad is natural – and something that should be almost expected. While some students may attribute a part of their loneliness to being far from family members, others may be able to claim language barrier issues or a lack of proper knowledge and research before their departure from home. StudyAbroad.com is a website that offers information on all aspects related to study abroad – including homesickness. In an article posted in March 2012, one young female shares her experience of facing homesickness when participating in a study abroad program in Rome – and how she decided to return home shortly after her arrival there. While she felt she had made the right decision, she often wonders how she would be a different person if she had stayed for the entire duration. To read more about Lauren Alexander’s reflections and trip experiences, follow the link below.


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