OPINION: It’s okay to be homesick when studying abroad

Jacob L'Hommedieu

For many at Loyola, the possibility of traveling abroad and studying in not only a different university but possibly an entirely different continent, is an exciting prospect.

Not only do you get to take different classes than those available at Loyola, but you also get to experience a new culture: be it one of the partner universities in Asia like Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan, going for a summer program in Brazil, or ending up like me and crossing the Atlantic to study at l’Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, Italy.

Being very central in Europe, not only is Milan a good jumping-off point for travel throughout the continent, but it also gives a good snapshot of what life in Europe is like, at least, in the Italian sense.

But between one euro espressos, taking classes, and popping over to visit different cities across the Italian peninsula, I couldn’t help but notice something. In the back of my mind, something had crept its way into my consciousness, something that will creep into anyone’s mind if they do decide to study abroad at any point, loneliness.

Now, this isn’t the kind of loneliness where you are alone. Nor is it the metaphorical kind where you are surrounded by people, yet it feels like you are all alone. Well, maybe just a little.

No, it’s the kind of loneliness you feel when you have been separated from what is familiar to you in your everyday life and it is beginning to wear on you. That’s right, homesickness.

It’s not hard to imagine why I or other people studying abroad would feel that way. We have abandoned what we know in favor of the unknown. The mystery is exhilarating. A new country to explore, new people to meet, and pretty much new everything.


But, when that new car smell starts to fade, a realization sets in. In exchange for these temporary wonders, we leave behind friends, family, and everything we have come to love about our city. Hell, I personally missed out on Mardi Gras, working more on The Maroon, and spending more time with my girlfriend, who I cannot wait to have back in my arms.

The thing is, though, is that it is okay to feel this way. The fact of the matter is that we are all human, and we love having our status quo. But the only way we can really grow is to break that status quo, and studying abroad is a perfect example of that.

So, when you are off on some other continent, and you feel that loneliness slipping its way into your thoughts, don’t try and deny them. Accept them, because there is some truth to them.

Sure, you may only be in that country for a short time in comparison to your entire educational career, but that just means you might as well embrace it. See and learn all you can, meet and treasure every friendship you make, and enjoy yourself.

At the end of the day, the second heaviest stuff you bring back will be the stuff you bought as a tourist, while the heaviest will be the memories you made along the way. And you’ll want a serious payload to share with the loved ones you’re coming home to.