This article was written by our Managing Director, James Martin, based on his own experiences studying overseas.
I did my student exchange in Bordeaux, France. It was, by far, the best experience of my life, and was one of the main inspirations for starting Insider Guides. However, I did get a bit homesick. Luckily, I had some friends around me who encouraged me to change the lens in which I viewed the world. They encouraged me to be curious, open to the world and fall in love with what was happening around me in my city. They encouraged me to fully embrace the experience. I did, and it changed everything.
Here are my tips:
1) Be a tourist in your new city
Explore the parks and markets, visit some local bars, try some exotic new food. Make the city feel familiar to you, and appreciate that life is short, and you might only be in this country for a short time. There’s so much to explore!
Select your city for ideas on how to get started:
2) Log off Facebook and other social media
When I was abroad, I was always checking Facebook and was sad to be missing all the parties and events with my friends at home. When I got back, I realised I hadn’t really missed out on anything important. In fact, my friends wanted to see more of MY pictures and adventures! Facebook and other social media are like a highlight reel for people’s lives. If you view the world through social media, you aren’t getting the full story of what’s happening back home and it’s a great way to make you feel depressed.
Give yourself a break from it, and start creating your own adventure.
3) Create a routine
This one really helped me. I’d get up and do a run and some exercises every day; then I’d make coffee and read for 20 minutes. It became a ritual, and I loved it. It took my mind off home for a while and allowed me just to enjoy life in this new moment. Once I got back to Australia I kept up this routine, and significantly improved my life. I feel like a routine provides scaffolding (structure) to your day.
4) Take lots of pictures
I find when I take pictures I tend to appreciate what’s happening around me a lot more. Plus your photos will be a great way of remembering all the places you have visited and the wonderful people you meet.
5) Learn something new, volunteer or join a club
Being in a new city is an excellent opportunity to learn something entirely new. Try art classes or cooking. Maybe it’s time to start learning yoga or dancing! Check your institution’s website for clubs to join or think about volunteering opportunities.
Making new friends is easy! Read 7 Habits of International Students Who Make Tonnes of Friends