Overcoming post-holiday homesickness as an international graduate student


SUMMARY: Dardanë, an international graduate student, shares her tips on what's helping her overcome post-holiday homesickness.

My first winter break back home as an international graduate student was heartwarming. I enjoyed the New Year's markets, their hot chocolate, and concerts. My cousins, whom I hadn't seen in a few years, also made it to Kosovo, adding an extra layer of joy to the festivities. I made the most of my time, showing my cousins around Kosovo, and enjoying quality family and friends time. Conversations naturally revolved around my JMU experience, and their interest and support reinforced my desire to return.

Leaving the warmth of my family and the familiarity of my hometown brought emotions I had not expected and was undeniably difficult. As I hugged my loved ones goodbye at the airport, a knot formed in my stomach, and I felt like crying. The sense of homesickness began to creep in even before the plane took off.

With these challenging feelings in mind, I want to share some tips, based on my own experience, that are helping me overcome this post-holiday homesickness.

Reminding myself why I’m here

As I settled back into my student routine, I couldn't help but feel a sense of longing for home. The laughter shared with family, the comfort of familiar surroundings, and the ease of communicating in my native language made me feel homesick. But I did not want to let this homesickness linger for too long.

To help me keep things in perspective, I wrote a list of the reasons why I chose to study abroad, reminding myself that this was a unique experience. From expanding my cultural horizons to gaining a global perspective in my field of study, each point was a powerful reminder that this temporary distance was a small sacrifice for a much larger, rewarding goal. I also reflected on the positive experiences from the holiday at home, wrote down my favorite memories, and kept them as a source of comfort.

Returning to habits that make you feel at home

One of the most effective ways I found to help with the post-holiday blues was to establish rituals that brought a piece of home into my daily life. Simple actions, like starting each morning with a cup of coffee in my favorite mug from back home, or setting aside time every day for a video call with family or friends, helped me stay connected emotionally and made the distance feel a bit smaller.

Sharing feelings and learning from others

I reached out to friends facing similar situations. We organized movie nights and coffee talks. This proactive approach not only prevented feelings of loneliness but also created a supportive atmosphere on campus and allowed me to openly share my feelings without fear of judgment. I could see how others coped with similar experiences through our conversations about post-holiday homesickness.

Returning to your student routine can provide a sense of stability. As overwhelming as it may seem initially, ease back into the academic and social commitments with a positive mindset. Attending classes, catching up with friends here, and engaging at work helped me shift my focus from home to what lies ahead. Keeping a positive mindset not only helped me overcome the sadness but also motivates me to try and get the most out of my experience abroad.

I’m writing this during the third week of classes still feeling a bit homesick. I am looking forward to summer break and the comforting thought of heading back home. I believe these moments of anticipation are part of the journey too.

I hope these tips help you overcome homesickness and remind you to make every moment of your studies abroad truly count.

Other blog posts.

Back to Top

by Dardanë Halimi

Published: Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Last Updated: Monday, April 22, 2024

Related Articles