An exchange semester or year in another country is always described as “the best period of your life”, a period which you will never get back and that you will forever remember, but it’s important not to forget that even while on exchange, life is still the same; it has its ups and down, plus a rollercoaster of emotions that only people who’ve moved to another country to study can understand.
"Studying abroad is all about stepping out of your comfort zone."
While at the beginning everything seems new and exciting, after a while things start to settle down and a feeling of homesickness can show up. That is of course completely normal, especially if you’re away from home for a long period for the first time! If you’re feeling extremely homesick, try to make your new house/apartment a real home, add some new decorations that remind you of your country and keep pictures of your family and friends with you!
Another problem that you might have is a feeling of anticipated regret. Because the time that you’re spending in this new country is not a very long period, you might feel the need to always be on top of your game and never miss a single event. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to go partying every day or explore a new town/country every week, but remember that if sometimes you’re feeling low you don’t have to always push yourself to do it! Always try to have some time for you, self-care is important and you don’t need to give it up while studying abroad.
The third and probably hardest part of your exchange is leaving your new country, your new home. The “post-erasmus depression” is experience by a great number of people and it is not easy to overcome. It will not start immediately after you go back home, but after while, just like the homesickness that you experienced in your host country. Although it will seem really difficult to readjust to your normal life, there are many things that you could do to keep feeling like you’re still on Erasmus; you could keep travelling, finding a job that keeps you always in contact with internationals or you could do the best thing of all: helping other students, just like our ESN volunteers do!
By Deborah Di Martino