12 December 2019

Tips for overcoming the study abroad blues

Leo Romanetz
US study abroad student

It’s not always easy studying abroad. Many students miss home, friends and all that is familiar. These are some of my tips on how to deal with those study abroad blues.

I was certainly warned about it. In my orientation sessions for studying abroad in New Zealand, they said I would go through some insane mood swings. I’d never considered myself a very emotionally susceptible person, so I didn't take this too seriously. But boy was that a mistake!

There have been incredible moments of ecstasy on this adventure. I’ve felt it walking through glorious mountains. I’ve felt it fishing on crystal clear rivers. I have felt it when I’m with friends that I hope to know for the rest of my life. But, I've also experienced some intense moments of “study abroad blues” as I’ve come to call them.

It can be a rather rainy and gloomy place here in Dunedin. Sometimes it feels just totally illogical why I feel sad and frustrated. There’s an inherent longing for what is familiar in all of us, I think. It affects some more than I others, I presume, but that feeling that you would rather just be where you’re comfortable has got to be in everyone.

I quickly learned that I needed to find ways to get out of that funk as quickly as I could. For starters, I literally compiled a list of things to do when I was “bored” (a euphemism for my “study abroad blues”). I’m pretty sure the original went something like this...

Things to do when I’m bored (sad):

  • Fish on the Leith River
  • Go to Dunedin museum
  • Write in my journal
  • Go to university gym
  • Listen to a new album
  • Research chemistry stuff
Things to do: hiking in the mountains

Yes, I know most of you probably will not include “research chemistry stuff” in your list of things to do when you are sad, but that’s not the point. Find things that will take your mind off your worries, your longings, your shortcomings, or whatever it is that bothers you in those moments. 

And just try your hardest to think how lucky you are to be where you are. That was what would pull me out of the funks the quickest, I think. 

I may not be given a chance like this again for the rest of my time on this planet, so why spend it wallowing? It can take tremendous amounts of energy and focus sometimes, but it’s always worth it to be thankful and just take it all in. 

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About the contributors
Leo Romanetz
US study abroad student

Leo Romanetz grew up in Northern Indiana, lives in Southern Michigan, goes to St. Lawrence Univeristy in upstate New York, and studied at the University of Otago. He studies chemistry and math and has a real passion for long, tangential music. “Studying in New Zealand has really been both an outward and inward journey for me, and it cannot be overstated how much I cherish this place and the opportunities it has brought me.”