There wasn’t one singular factor that made moving across the world so difficult. It wasn’t walking away from my family at the airport, catching a taxi to an empty apartment, or learning to not drink tap water. Every single thing combined to make me an extremely homesick girl living in a city with a 12 hour time difference from home.
But, I chose to study abroad. I wanted an exchange program that would force me out of my comfort zone. I wanted to learn about a different culture and grow not only as a student, but as a person.
I quickly learned that I needed to find ways to make Hong Kong comfortable. I was luckily able to handle homesickness, and I hope that these tips will help current or future exchange students.
- Make plans: Force yourself to get out of bed even when the jet lag is killing you. Make yourself explore the city and find places that feel a little bit like home. Try to experience new things with other exchange students, because they’re most likely feeling the same way as you.
- Develop a routine: Developing a routine makes a strange place seem a little more familiar. Become a regular at a coffee shop or go to the gym every day before class.
- Schedule phone calls: Mark your calendar for certain days or times when you and your loved ones are both free so that you can chat. Time differences are hard, but if you plan calls in advance it’s easier on everyone.
- Find something familiar: Search for your favorite snack in the grocery store or visit a restaurant that you can find in your home country.
- Have fun and enjoy your experience: If you’re an exchange student, you’ll be going home eventually. Try to enjoy being in a new place and remember that it’s temporary. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity—live it up!