Ever since the end of spring break, the energy on campus has been a little different. I think it’s safe to say that many students are currently experiencing a twinge of homesickness after the excess of exploration we’ve all been taking part in. If you don’t work to combat these things, they can sweep you up in their current and eat you alive. Here are some ways I’ve been taking care of myself while my heart longs for the City of Brotherly Love.
Be alone! When I get sad I need to spend some time alone and let myself feel that emotion and express it before I can move on from it. I might make myself a snack and set myself up with a movie or book around the house for a couple hours. Then I’ll go outside! It is of great importance to be vigilant about facilitation and intentional transition between these two stages. Once I get comfy I can be hard pressed to get up and move. Therefore, it is also important to know when to switch it up! Know when you need to stay in or go out. During my time outside I’ll go sit by the Tiber river, which reminds me of the Schuylkill, and bring my camera, a book of poetry or essays, or a sketchbook and some snacks. It is key to try and find special spaces like the ones you have at home. The elements feel very important to me, so finding a special area by a river echos familiarity in my mind. Going out and soaking up some vitamin D never hurt anybody, plus the change of scenery from the day-to-day holds a kind of sacred place in the soul.
Treat yourself! When people are incapable of making me smile, sugar is. Lucky for me I am in the land of gelato and funny little confections. Think back to when you were a child. If you were lucky enough you may have, like me, had a mom who would carry around little packets of sweets. If my brother and I were patient through the day and behaved well and were quiet and didn’t fight we’d get a treat in the afternoon! Be your own parent. When you study abroad, you are residing independently in a foreign country (although you have the support of your university) — no one is here to help build you up but yourself. This week I treated myself to a silvery, brocaded blazer I found in a thrift store on the way home. Self care is not only treating our bodies well by what we put into them, but by what we put on them.
Lastly, and most importantly: be with friends! Reach out to folks when you’re feeling blue! When we receive attention from those we know and love we feel slightly more full. When I feel sad I will reach out to two people at home and verbalize that I’m feeling down and need some support from them! I will also reach out to a friend on campus and see if they are available to hang out! This past week I have been to a park, thrift shopping and out for an aperitivo in the name of friendship forged through the fires of loneliness and homesickness.
It is important to take care of ourselves always. However, when we are far away from home, it is easy to get a little lost due to the fact that we are away from our people, places, things and routines! However by enriching your own life with little practices and acting intentionally for ourselves, it isn’t so hard to stay happy and healthy while abroad.