It’s almost been two months since the last time I was in the United States – since I saw my family in person, since I was able to walk across the street and simply get a cheeseburger from McDonald’s. Sure, Germany is great, but it’s hard not to be homesick.
Naturally, I have to make the most of my time here, so I’ve had to come up with a few ways to overcome any homesickness I have. In case you plan to study abroad or are just curious as to how I combat this issue, here are a few pages from my playbook on how to remedy homesickness.
One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from Yogi Berra, former catcher for the New York Yankees. He said, “Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.” Although it really doesn’t make sense, he gets his point across, and it certainly can be applied to this situation. Homesickness is mainly a mental battle, so if you can keep your brain occupied, there’s a lower chance that you’ll dwell on how much you miss your homeland.
How do I approach this? Honestly, it’s not too difficult at this time, as my classes are approaching exam periods and companies back in the United States are in the midst of their prime hiring windows. I also have a nice active friend group here in Vallendar, so I certainly have plenty of things to keep me busy at the moment.
Food from home
In a similar vein to the last point, American food also helps to comfort me on the darker days (thanks to my girlfriend Morgan for the suggestion!). Thankfully, German culture is filled with “Wurst”, which acts as a suitable substitute for my favorite food, an old-fashioned hot dog.
Although other American “delicacies” are a bit different here in Germany (McDonald’s just isn’t the same…), one thing they do have is plenty of pizza. Spaghetti is also very easy to come by, although I suppose that’s more Italian than anything. Nonetheless, being able to have meals similar to those back home certainly is a nice thing from time to time.
Entertainment from home
This is one of the biggest things for me. Listening to music helped me focus back when I was studying in the US, but now it serves an additional purpose. Whenever I really miss home, I plug in my headphones and play songs that remind me of different things. For instance, my girlfriend is a huge country fan, so listening to Thomas Rhett’s new album “Life Changes” helps me feel like she’s right here with me. I also listen to my hip hop tracks from artists like Young Thug and Kendrick Lamar in order to get back into my element (yes, I am in fact the whitest person alive).
American TV shows also do the trick. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed “productively” catching up on seasons of “Archer”, “Rick and Morty” and “House of Cards” during my time abroad. I also get to connect with people back home through the Survivor Fantasy League I’m a part of. It may just seem like an excuse to watch TV shows, but it truly does help cure any bouts of homesickness.
I only do this with my girlfriend (sorry Mom), but it’s also a really good way to narrow the distance between Germany and the US. For me, seeing someone else’s handwriting makes the note feel more personal. There’s just something about a nice, traditional hand-written note that has a bigger impact on me than a text, even if I can “see” people in a sense of the word by exchanging Bitmojis with others.
Just 10 years ago, studying abroad essentially meant little to no contact with home for however long you were gone. However, now I get to speak face-to-face with my parents, my sister, my girlfriend…literally anyone! It’s such a reassuring feeling to be able to talk with people rather than just messaging them. I utilize it at least twice a week, and since it’s free, I could do it even more frequently if I needed to. Scheduling can be a pain, but once you get times worked out with the other parties, it’s a really great tool to use.