Year Abroad Diaries - "Do you ever feel homesick?"

How to deal with homesickness while on your year abroad

Elana Shapiro
16th December 2021
Image credit: Elana Shapiro
When I meet new people here and explain that I am from the UK and doing Erasmus, there are some typical questions that follow. If they are not European they might ask “What is Erasmus?”, or if they are European they might ask “Working or studying?”. Later on in the conversation they will probably ask how I like Berlin, or sometimes they might not ask any questions but instead hearing that I’m from the UK they simply say ‘Brexit’ and laugh.

There was one question this week though which has stayed on my mind – “Do you get homesick?”

I’ve been here almost two months now which, in the grand scheme of things, is not very long. Sometimes it feels like I arrived barely two minutes ago and at other times it feels like I have lived here forever. This morning, for example, as I walked through a sort of farmer’s market which takes place in the square at the bottom of my street, before getting a coffee from my favourite cafe, I felt completely content and at-home.

Nevertheless, there are times when I feel down. I feel lonely or I miss my dog, my friends, and my family, and other much smaller and far less significant things like Yorkshire Tea. Thankfully these moments are rare and fleeting but they do arise.

When this happens, I find something enjoyable to do which will distract me

Most likely it is something simple like making plans to meet friends, or visiting a book store, or ticking off a tourist attraction that I want to see from my list, or going to one of the many charity or vintage shops here, or finding a market, or watching a film, or doing some cooking, or trying a new restaurant.

That is perhaps my favourite thing about Berlin – there is always something to do, something new to see, or a recommendation to follow up, and it is easy to keep busy until the feelings pass.

And if that doesn’t work, I beg my sister to send some more pictures of Teddy - our dog.

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