Finding a Sense of Home While Abroad

Programs for this blog post

Arts + Sciences

Authored By:

Kate S.

Now that my semester abroad is coming to end, I think it’s a good time to share with you what I did (and what I wish I did) to make Seoul feel like a home away from home. 

One of the biggest challenges of studying abroad is losing that sense of home you had wherever you live or study back in the US or elsewhere. It can lead you to feel lonely, isolated, and disconnected from yourself and others.

Going abroad, however, forces you to realize what home means to you and gives you the chance to intentionally create a home for yourself in a new place.   

Here are a few tips on how to recreate that sense of home while you’re abroad.  

Establish routines. 

Establishing routines can be a lot harder than you think when there are so many exciting new things to try; however, routines are valuable in that they add stability to your life, and as such, they can reduce stress. 

Maybe, you start going to the gym twice a week. Or, you do a face mask every Sunday night for a little self care. Or perhaps, you decide to go out to eat at your favorite restaurant every couple weeks.   

Keep up with your hobbies. 

Oftentimes, studying abroad can lead you to feel a sense of identity confusion or identity loss. Continuing to engage in the activities you love can help you feel more rooted in yourself.   

Create fun traditions with your new friends. 

As I mentioned earlier, adding a little consistency to your life abroad can help you feel more secure. And what better way than to do so with your friends!

Two of my friends and I decided that, every Tuesday, we would go out to dinner together. Since then, our little Tuesday night dinners have become one of the things I most look forward to each week. 

What tradition will you create? Dinners? Movie nights? There are so many possibilities.  

Make yourself a regular at a cafe or restaurant. 

Sometimes, a spark of recognition by a server at a restaurant or a cashier at a cafe can make my entire day. 

Making yourself a regular somewhere can help you feel less like an outsider. It helps create those senses of familiarity and belonging that are super important parts of feeling at home somewhere.

Join a club or community. 

Community is so important! This is something I really wish I did during my time here in Seoul. 

Joining a club or community (eg. sports team, religious organization, etc.) can help you not only to meet like-minded people and make friends, but also to feel more involved in campus and/or city life. 

Stay connected with friends and family back home.   

While you’re working hard to make friends abroad, remember that you have to be intentional about maintaining relationships with the people you care about back home. 

Thank goodness for video calls!

I hope these tips help you feel better prepared to navigate the new environment you will live in and to make the most of your study abroad experience.