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Year Abroad? Top Tips for Overcoming Homesickness

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Brazilian entrepreneur and traveller Rafael dos Santos knows a thing or two about the process of moving abroad. Here he explains the five stages you’ll go through when heading off on your year abroad...

When you are living abroad, homesickness is inevitable. I have been living in London for twelve years and when I first moved from Brazil I never really understood what homesickness meant until it hit me. Every now and again I feel like this but I know the signs and there are a few things that you can do to minimise, or stop feeling homesick.

  • Remind yourself why you have moved to another country
The first thing that you must remind yourself is why you are there. What's the goal to be achieved? Learning a new language, a new career, or a new life in general? Setting a goal will help you to get through the journey.

  • How long will you be away?
Is your move temporary? How so? 3 months, 1 year, until the end of your degree? This will help you to keep your mind on your goal. If you don't know why you are travelling and you just want to run away from all your problems, then things are a little bit more complicated.

  • What are you missing?
What are you missing the most? Material things you can get online, (your favourite biscuit, the brand of body cream that ONLY can be found in your country, etc). If you are missing your friends and family there are a few things you can do. Skype and Facebook are two of the best ways you can keep in touch. Seeing them will help you to be 'closer.' I know it's not the same but unless you take a plane and fly back home, you will have to make-do with the tools you have to stop feeling homesick.

  • Make friends with people from your own country.
One way to keep your homesickness under control is to make friends with people from your country. In your first months away, you will probably meet a lot of people from your country and that’s a good thing. If they have been living there for a long time, it will be quicker and easier for you to learn about the habits, how things operate in the city and the places to go (and not to go!). Being friends with people from your country will have advantages as well as disadvantages. You need to understand that if you do not mix with locals (whatever they may be . . . English, Argentinean, South African and so on), you will not learn about them. You need to live 'their life', go to their houses, to their parties, and have dinner with them. You need to experience what it is to be like them; otherwise, what is the point of moving abroad only to mix with people from your country? You may as well stay at home and do a course around the corner from your house, right?

Believe it or not, there is always someone from your country wherever you are. You can hear them! Don't be afraid to approach people and talk to them. It really makes life easier.

Rafael dos Santos is the author of ‘Moving Abroad – One Step At A Time’ (£9.99 Panoma Press) which is available from Amazon and since 2005, he has run a successful small property company LondonUP. For more information visit: http://www.londonup.com/

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