Year Abroad / Overcoming homesickness

Guess who’s back again with another year abroad post? Yep, you guessed it. It’s been over two months since I moved to Spain now and quite honestly, it has felt more like two years. I went home last month for a couple of days and for a while, I was absolutely fine, seeing friends, going out for drinks and celebrating the Pilares. However, with bad news of my uncle came anxiety, dread and a hell of a lot of emotion. To put it simply: I have been extremely homesick.

Yet in the last week or so, I have noticed a vast improvement in my mood and my outlook on the whole year abroad thing, and I wanted to share how I’ve been dealing with it.

Making plans

I made a little calendar to track how long I have left until I leave Zaragoza for Christmas, and since I first drew it up, I have scribbled all over it with plans. In a few days I’m going to Sevilla to meet up with a large group of course mates for a weekend of catching up and celebrating birthdays, and the week after I’m visiting my friend Emily in Vitoria-Gasteiz, the capital of the Basque Country. I can’t wait! Throw in a few days away to Barcelona with Jack at the start of December, and boom, it’ll be Christmas in no time. My bank balance isn’t looking so good now I’ve booked so many coaches, trains and an Airbnb, but it’ll be worth it, and it gives me something to look forward to in those moments where I just want to go home and sleep in my own bed.

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Trips, gym sessions, birthdays… even my TV shows…

Joining the gym

I went to the gym occasionally back home, occasionally being the operative word. Apart from walking a lot here, I’ve not been doing much else in the way of exercise, so this week I took the plunge and joined the same gym as my flatmate. I’ve already been three times this week and I feel great! It’s also handy to have something like a spinning class to look forward to in the evenings on days when my classes finish mid-afternoon, and helps me sleep better as I’m so tired out. In the space of a week I’ve accidentally ended up in an abs class (lol) and I’ve done spinning to Green Day and the can-can… it’s weird but seriously fun.

Before and after the gym… definitely exhausting!

Avoiding moping around in my bedroom

I realised that being so homesick wasn’t being helped by constantly staying in my room in-between classes and evening plans, and so I’ve resolved to get myself out of the flat as much as possible. I’ve gone for walks down the high street of an evening to clear my head, been shopping and treated myself to candles and fairy lights for my room to help relax at night, and I’ve been to a fair few cafés up and down the road with wifi in order to work in a different environment. The latter in particular is really working: in the space of a week I’ve caught up on some notes for my new Spanish class, handwritten several postcards and letters to friends and family, planned and written blog posts and reviews (including these two about Michael Bublé and The xx for Redbrick), Skyped friends and my grandmother, and if all of that sounds good, I’ve also drunk my weight in English Breakfast tea. I’d call that a success.

Lots and lots of tea (and walking)

Taking a leap and being brave

I’ve made friends over here but I guess within the first month or so I just kept myself to myself once I’d established certain connections with other Erasmus students. However, since realising that talking to people, asking for help, introducing myself to other Spanish students, etc. would help, despite my panic and anxiety over doing so, I now have friends in every class here. It’s actually a much nicer feeling walking to class in the morning knowing that whichever one I’m heading to I have people to sit with and speak to, meaning I don’t feel so isolated and lonely on down days. It also really helps when you don’t understand something and need advice! Spanish professors talk fast.

Keeping to a routine

I’ve realised in the last couple of weeks that I’m treating each day in a certain way. I think that’s partially because my timetable here is the same every two days: 10:30-5pm every Monday and Tuesday, 10:30-14:30 every Wednesday and Thursday. I already know which days are the best for my spinning class, which days I need to make myself lunch and which days I can treat myself to a big meal over a Netflix binge, which nights are best to go out, and I always try and make sure that I have a shower and I’m in bed by around 10pm on nights when I have no plans. I may not sleep for a fair while after that but it means I can settle in, light my candles, FaceTime my mother or Jack, read, and it really seems to calm me down. Routine can be really helpful in keeping anxiety and overthinking at bay for me, so thank god I’m finally getting it down.

My room is the perfect place to relax (and to FaceTime Harriet in Italy!)

I know that some may be reading this and thinking a) everyone gets homesick sometimes (which is very true, I know I’m not the only one struggling right now) and b) these solutions seem pretty obvious. However, when you’re in a new, foreign country away from everything you know, things like this can escape you when you don’t know what to do with yourself. Sometimes if I’m stuck on a Sunday for something to do, I’ll tidy my room or make something to freeze for dinner in the week, and I instantly feel a little calmer. Keeping busy is paramount, and I’m so relieved I’m finally starting to enjoy myself here again. And besides, it’s exactly six weeks until Christmas! How could you not be excited knowing the best holiday of the year is so close, eh?

I hope everyone else on their year abroad right now is having a great time – I’m sending you all good vibes! Until the next posts, guys.

Make sure you’re following me on Instagram and Twitter to keep up with my year abroad.

Image credit: Google Images

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