My name is Rebeka and I’m a month in to my year abroad in Granada, Spain. It feels so strange to be writing this post because 2 or 3 months ago, I wasn’t even sure I’d make it on the aeroplane. Instead, I was coming up with creative suggestions as to why I couldn’t go. (which included googling how to find distant Spanish relatives…)
In any case, despite having to overcome a language barrier, culture shock and running back and forth to the International Office, one big fear that every prospective year abroad student faces is home sickness. I feel as though studying in Swansea but being from up north has given me a slight advantage because it actually takes more time (and in some cases, more money) to get to Swansea than it does Granada, however I still felt, and continue to feel, homesickness in my own way.
I don’t have all the answers, but here are some of my tips for how to overcome this feeling in the first few weeks of moving abroad.
- Go to Erasmus events. I’m certain that there will be an Erasmus organisation on campus: we have ESN (Erasmus Students Network) here in Granada which offers the Spanish version of societies, along with many trips to places in and around the city you’re studying. This is a great way to travel on a budget and meet other Erasmus students in the same position as you. I’ve already been to Gibraltar and Nerja and have had the best time: I couldn’t recommend going on trips enough!
- Give yourself a break. It can be so easy to get swept up in all the commotion that goes hand in hand with moving to a new country: sorting out a bank account and other important documents, registering with the international office, trying to get out there and speak to new people, all in a language that is not your native one. Well done! It’s such a big achievement and we should all be proud of ourselves, but remember that if this gets too much, it’s okay to have a night (or entire day) off to sit in bed and watch F.R.I.E.N.D.S and not feel guilty. We all need some down-time to let our brains recharge ready for a new day/week of activity, so put your feet up, put on your favourite show (if you only have Spanish TV, would thoroughly recommend Ven A Cenar Conmigo) and have a cuppa.
- Talk to someone. It’s always very embarrassing to share our feelings with other people, but chances are, everyone is feeling the same as you are. Seeing everyone on social media enjoying themselves on their year abroad, going out every night can make you worry that everyone else is having an amazing time and you aren’t, but I assure you that everyone, in one way or another, misses their mum, dad, cat…as much as you.
And there you have it! My tips for enjoying your first few weeks and minimising homesickness.