Wry Exchange


Severe Homesickness
08-22-07, 6:59 pm
Filed under: Depression, Exchange Students, hosting | Tags: , , , , ,

What do you do when your FES is so homesick, he or she wants to return home?

  1. Gather information.  Why is FES on exchange?  Was is his decision, or did his parents force him?  Does he have a serious girlfriend back home?  Do his parents support his exchange, or does his mom want him back home?  Is anyone important to him seriously ill? 
  2. Find someone who speaks the same language.  The best person to talk to FES is an emigrant from her own country.  The second best would be a former exchange student who was in her country.  It really helps to have someone who understand’s your child’s culture available for assistance.
  3. Is your student physically healthy?  We’ve had students lie about their health.  We host and sponsor students with depression; but some parents ‘doctor shop’ so their child appears healthy.  We have hosted students with depression who came without their medication and tried to hide it.  We have also had students with anorexia and severe nightmares that weren’t listed on their applications.
  4. Ask why FES is homesick?  Does she miss her dog? the food? her friends? her normal routine? Is she missing a festival or large celebration?  Has she ever been away from home before?  Husband and I hosted a student who had never spent a night away from home without his parents-he never even stayed with a neighbor or grandparent!  I have no idea what he and his parents were thinking.  He lasted 3 months, and returned to The Netherlands.  
  5. Keep FES busy.  Body- To get the endorphins moving, to tire him out so he’ll sleep at night, and to counter potential weight gain.  Mind-He might forget how miserable he is if he has fun.  You don’t want FES to sit and brood.  Keep ’em occupied.  I can’t stress enough the importance of keeping busy .
  6. Remind FES of why she’s an exchange student. What are her goals?  Does she need to learn English to have a better career back home?  A short-term sacrifice will mean an improved life for her and her family.  If she can get through this year, or at least Christmas, she can do anything.  Aim for Christmas, all year may just seem impossible at this point.
  7. Introduce FES to other exchange students.  He should know he’s not the only one with these feelings.  (Almost) Everyone else is lost, too.  Some of the kids think everyone else is just fine, and they are weak for being sad.  I want to shake them and say “You’re 17, in a foreign country, speaking a new language, eating new food, and you know no one.  Of course you’re miserable!” 
  8. Ensure FES is eating a balanced, healthy diet.  Check to make sure FES is sleeping.  Homesick kids sometimes sneak and chat online in the middle of the night.

Acknowledge that being an exchange student isn’t for everyone, and you may not be able to save the exchange.  Try to get FES to stay for at least 10 days, then a little longer.  The student should try to stay as long as possible.  Too many students quit, then realize what a huge mistake they made by returning home.

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31 Comments so far
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what do i do if i have severe homesickness?

i’m a 15 year old foreign exchange student currently in santiago, chile.

i am so ridiculously homesick that it’s impossible for me to function here. i need advice!

Comment by jenny

Hey! Great blog! Thanks for adding me to your blogroll.

If you don’t mind I’d like to link to you in my weekly links, I think you have some great information for students going abroad.

Comment by travelchile

Jenny, I wrote a post for you. Send me a comment again, so I can capture your email address and write to you. I do want to help.

Comment by Wry

i’m a 15 year old exchnage student in argentina
i am having the time of my life but i dread coming home becuase i dont enjoy being with my host family
i dont know what to do now, i am just trying to spend all my time out … any ideas?

Comment by maddy

Maddy,
Can you ask for a different host family? (I followed up with an online chat with Maddy.)

Comment by Wry

Im a 15 year old exchange student and In Germany, Im from Canada, and i miss home so much, im to stay a year but i think im going to cut it short. I have a serious bf and I really want to go home. what to do??
i miss my family alot.

Comment by Kristen

Kristen, Think of what you’ll miss if you go home. This is a chance you’ll never have again-a year in Germany! Homesickness is normal. Use a webcam to keep in close contact with your family and bf. KEEP BUSY. Do you have German or exchange friends? You need to talk to someone who cares about you. If you can’t imagine an entire year right now, that’s fine. Give yourself smaller goals. One week, one month. I added you to my Messenger contacts so we can chat more.

Comment by Wry

I am having some serious problems with my exchange. I am a senior in the US and am spending six months in Germany. My problem is that I have AP courses in the states that are interfering with my experience. But these courses are important for my graduating and going to college. My host mother does not approve of me keeping such a big link with my home country.

Comment by josie

Hi, Josie. It’s tough trying to do AP courses on exchange. How many are you taking? How are you interferring with your experience? Are you going to school in Germany? Can you do your US schoolwork during a free period? Can you drop a class, and pick it up when you return to the US? Have you talked to your home school to see if any of your German school work will be given credit? If all you do is study 24/7, then you are missing out on exchange. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and colleges will look with favor at your applications. Are you taking time away from socializing with the host family? friends? I need more details.

Comment by Wry

I do reply with an email to comments, to try to continue the dialog in private. I’ll be happy to try to help anyone.

Comment by Wry

hi. im an exchange student in germany for a year. iv made it 3 months. but recently iv gotten super homesick. i miss everything. and im soo bored. i try to make friends here, but no one at my school seems interested. i come home everyday and do nothing. if i am busy, im fine. but its rare that im busy. i have a knee injury, so i cant do sports at all.

any advice?

Comment by jess

“hi. im an exchange student in germany for a year. iv made it 3 months. but recently iv gotten super homesick. i miss everything. and im soo bored. i try to make friends here, but no one at my school seems interested. i come home everyday and do nothing. if i am busy, im fine. but its rare that im busy. i have a knee injury, so i cant do sports at all.

any advice?”

-Genau! We’re practically twins!
I’m an exchange student in Germany too. I got so homesick (right around the time that I had officially been one for 3 months) that I was ready to run into an airport and become a stowaway. Don’t get me wrong, Germany is cool, but I miss my family so much!! I know that I must get busy to break this, but it is hard to find things to do here– I am in a pretty small town.
Any ideas on how to kick the homesickness??
I keep counting months– which I know is bad, but I don’t know how else to comfort myself– though it isn’t all that comforting to think I have about 7 more months away from home

Comment by Chelsea

“hi. im an exchange student in germany for a year. iv made it 3 months. but recently iv gotten super homesick. i miss everything. and im soo bored. i try to make friends here, but no one at my school seems interested. i come home everyday and do nothing. if i am busy, im fine. but its rare that im busy. i have a knee injury, so i cant do sports at all.

any advice?”

-Genau! We’re practically twins!
I’m an exchange student in Germany too. I got so homesick (right around the time that I had officially been one for 3 months) that I was ready to run into an airport and become a stowaway. Don’t get me wrong, Germany is cool, but I miss my family so much!! I know that I must get busy to break this, but it is hard to find things to do here– I am in a pretty small town.
Any ideas on how to kick the homesickness??
I keep counting months– which I know is bad, but I don’t know how else to comfort myself– though it isn’t all that com

So… This is totally me right now.. its just my 3rd month in germany.. from usa, and agh homesickness is coming 😦 what did you do!?

Comment by Leslie

One of my students is in Germany this year. He doesn´t understand how anyone can be bored in Germany. He lives in a smaller town, but is very busy, and sees his exchange friends on weekends. Can you use the bus, and go visit friends in other towns? Can you find older friends with cars, or who go out more? Can you volunteer with children or animals to get your mind off of your own problems? Is your counselor involved in your life? It´s really tough, especially this time of year, but you´ll regret it forever if you go home.

Comment by Wry

Yes, well I told myself that going home isn’t an option– regreting it would be awful and leaving would be hard, etc. Germany is cool, but I have been asking around for things to do and no one knows any– I was hoping to find a place to volunteer, like an animal shelter, but again, no one knows. But I keep trying to find one! I am also in contact with a church– my religion isn’t super big so the churches are more in the bigger cities, but I might be able to go to one. I think that will help a lot because it is something to do every week and I think the people will be very welcoming. ^^

Comment by Chelsea

I’m also severely homesick! I’m been feeling this way for about 6 months on and off, but the past 5 weeks, when I returned from home after the Christmas holidays, has been unbearable. It’s better during the week when I have to go to class, but at night and on the weekends, I can’t even get out of bed. It’s taken over my life. My family knows I’m homesick, but I don’t think they understand how bad it is. I can’t take it any more.

Comment by Thandi

Hi, im 17 Im in France on exchange at the moment, and im feeling really homesick! Ive been here six months already without any major problems, but now, with my return to school, and change of host families, Ive become really low, physically and mentally. I changed classes at school, and talked to my host family to help me, but nothing seems to make me feel better. I feel like going home, but I know that if i do Ill regret it for the reqt of my life. Can you help me? <i feel like Ive tried everything!

Comment by Katie

Hi, Katie, see “Dear Wry” from today. I’m writing a post for you.

Comment by Wry

Hi! im a exchange student in Germany.. you are right… there is not much to do here.. in school days you just go home and do nothing.. i whish i could do something.. but i dont know what..i’ll try to look for something.. im only a month here.. i hope i find something cause otherwise it would just be too booring…

Comment by dani

Hi! im on exchange in france, and my french is TERRIBLE but i really just want to go home, i miss my family so much, i did not think it would be this bad, i have 54 days to go and i have only been here for ‘, i already want to go home, what should i do!

Comment by Sam

Sorry, typo, i have been here for four days

Comment by Sam

Sam, Your exchange is for 2 months-over the holidays? That’s a recipe for failure. I’m so sorry. You are experiencing culture shock, try to keep busy. Your French will improve dramatically in a week. Four days in, and you still have jetlag. Just take it a day or 1/2 day at a time. Remind yourself everything at home will still be there in 2 months. You have almost 10% of your stay completed. You can do this. Try to look forward to something fun in France. You’ll never have this opportunity again. It’s not easy, but you’ll grow up so much. Think of it as boot camp.

Comment by Wry

Hi!
I’m a 17 year old foreign exchange student from Norway. I’ve been here in the US for almost 5 months, with 5 months and a week to go. I’ve been homesick for pretty much all this time, although sometimes worse than others. I don’t participate in any sports, because I broke my leg in an accident two months into my stay. It’s also hard to get around, cause I live far away from town and most of my friends don’t have their license yet.

I also started dealing with some pretty heavy stuff before I left, and I really feel that I need my family right now. I think maybe it was just the wrong time to do this, a year earlier would’ve been perfect. Also, my host family fights a lot, which is a big difference for me.

I feel so homesick and so tired, I don’t know what to do. I just want my family and my best friend. Another five months feels like the longest time in the world.

Comment by Inga

Hi, Inga. Thank you for writing. You sound sad. You have made it halfway through your year, though. That is an accomplishment to celebrate. Can you move to a new host family? Somewhere closer to town where you can walk to visit friends or just to get out of the house? Winter is a slow time in the states, many people just hole up in their homes. It sounds like you need a vacation. Are you able to visit a relative or friend elsewhere in the states for a long weekend? If not, can you go to a school friend’s home for a weekend visit? What does your family think? Are the encouraging you to stay? Five months is not that long, and you know it isn’t. For you to succeed, you need to find support here in the states. Go to your counselor, area coordinator, friend’s mom, or favorite teacher, and ask for help.

Comment by Wry

Thanks for your answer! It’s so good to finally hear some actual suggestions instead of “talk less to your natural family and spend more time with your american family”.

I probably won’t be able to go on a vacation, but I’ll try and see if I can find somebody to talk to and spend more time with friends on the weekends. I’ll also try to find something that can keep me occupied on the weekdays.

My family encourages me to stay, defineatly. It haven’t really been a issue to go home. They just want me to ba happy.

In the beginning of the year I wanted to change host families, but we talked about it, and I decided to try a little more, and now it’s just kinda stuck this way. I don’t have a horrible host family, but they do fight a lot, the host mom even mentioned moving out a while ago. Fighting just seems like their way of communicating. Also, I’ve never heard anyone complain so much about how little housework “we kids” do as my host dad. It’s really exhausting.

I’ll try and talk to my area coordinator tomorrow, hopefully he’ll have some helping words 🙂

Comment by Inga

I’m a 17 year old girl, have been in France for 6 months, but I had to take a trip back to the states for University visits. My friends here have gone back to their respective countries, and while I have French friends, it’s not the same. Since I have come back from the US, I have been so so so homesick and I feel numb. I can’t eat and I have cried myself to sleep. I try to convince myself just to take it a week at a time, seeing as I only have 14 left, but it’s so hard. My teachers hate me because school is not my top priority seeing as I’m finished with it and they’re all mean to me. I don’t know if I can make it to the end. I don’t know what to do..

Comment by taylor

Hello, Well I am coming from the opposite end of things. I am a host sister to our foreign exchange student from Denmark. He has only been here for 2 months and he is feeling very homesick. So I was talking with him about it and he says he only feels homesick while at school. I guess he likes his football and he loves his family life. But when it comes to school, he just can’t take it. So last night he was telling my mom about possibly wanting to go home. And i thought it was bad at school, but not bad enough to want to go home 😦 I just don’t know what to do?? He has worked for 2 years to get this and I don’t want to see him throw it all away. The money and effort would be for nothing. Also I am only just starting to get to know him and it would be terrible to see him leave, when he hasnt seen half of what we have to offer…help please!!

Comment by Arica

hi…i’m a college student who’s abroad in cairo for four months…i’ve been here for three weeks and the entire time i’ve been waxing and waning between bad homesickness and even worse homesickness. i’ve been away from home tons of times before for 2 and 3 month stretches, and my home university is a plane ride away from my permanent home, and i’ve never had this before.

needless to say, this is an almost crippling homesickness and i’m running out of energy and motivation to try and keep this going. i met with a counselor at my university today, but that didn’t help – it only made it worse. i’m very much considering calling it quits and heading home, but i don’t know what to do.

Comment by Jon

Hi. I am an exchange student in Watertown, New York. I am really homesick..!!! my dad back in Denmark has cancer. I just wanna be with him, but i don’t wanna give up. I don’t know what to do. I have been thinking about to go home in January.. Please help me.

Comment by Ditte

Hello as of right now I am a exchange student in Argentina. I have been here for one month and a half. and i am really starting to think that this exchange thing is not for me. Im bored alot and my host family doesnt like to do anything. And its not like I can just switch families because they dont do anything wrong and they are nice people . my spanish is TERIBLE. And people here get frustrated when i ask them to slow down. The school that I go to is a private catholic school and the hours are really long, and repetitve and on top o that im the only person not catholic. The town i live in is a small farming town with nothing to do or see. And All of the other exchange students in Argentina say the are having the best time of there lifes. Which makes me feel so much worse. Also I feel horrible that I spent every thing I have been saving up for years and alot of my parents money to, to come here and mope around. I just dont know why I choose to do this but I used to have friends that loved and cared about me. And now they are having a great time without me back in the beautiful valley that I left. I miss skiing, hiking, swimming in the river, my friends, family, pets, and evern my brother and sister, my room,house,yard, EVERYTHING. All I want to do it go home.

Comment by Maggie

I’m a 16 year old girl, I’ve been in Italy for 7 months with 3 months to go, I am sooo homesick, I miss everyone and everyone here always asks me if I’m okay cause I always look sad or tired, I even took a depression test and got severe depression. I don’t know what’s going on sometimes I’m so sad I don’t even talk to anyone and cry all the time and sometimes I’m so happy but it lasts for like less than a day, I count the days till I go home and talk to my family everyday but I just want to spend time with them and hug them 😦 I feel like I’m so tired from all this time I’ve had to adapt and everything and I have to watch my every move and can’t always be myself, I don’t know I’m so sad!!! HELP!

Comment by gaby




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