Hi there! My name’s George, I’m a 3rd year Politics and Russian student, and I’m currently on my year abroad in Russia. As it’s my first blog of the year I wanted to write something personal that some of you may relate to, or be worried about if you are going to do a placement in the coming years.
Homesickness – we’ve all come across it at one point in our lives, whether you went abroad for the first time without your parents, went to a boarding school, or when you came to Bath Uni as a fresher.
I’ve never really felt it much. In some ways, I was happy to get away from home when I first came to Bath, as I was excited to start a new chapter of my life. However, I never expected to get homesick on my year abroad, especially how hard it would hit me.
I thought I was going to feel the same as when I first came to Bath: excited for new experiences. And I was initially. I absolutely love Russia, the culture, the people. I already had friends where I was going, as I went to a Summer Camp only a couple of months prior.
I settled in well, already knowing the city and my job. However, a month into my placement, I started to feel a bit down.
Reasons for this feeling
I thought to myself – why? I had been looking forward to this year abroad for so long. The adventures I’ll be able to go on, the new life experiences I will learn. But I thought back to my first 2 years in Bath, the great times I had with my friends and how much I miss them.
I also missed my parents too, but I felt like I will always have the opportunity to see them in the future. What upset me the most was thinking about how when I get back for my final year, nothing will be the same. Some of my friends would have graduated university in their 3rd year while I was abroad. So, this feeling of emptiness really hit hard.
Another reason I was feeling down is because of the fact that I was miles away. People who have placements in the UK itself, or Western Europe always have the opportunity to fly back for a weekend, on a short and cheap flight, whenever they would like to.
However, because I am so far, almost 3000 miles away, coming back home for a weekend wouldn’t be feasible. The flight is about 8 hours and a return trip would cost me £500. So, the fact that I was so isolated made me feel so alone.
Maybe also the short winter months in Russia exacerbated this, but I felt a bit sad to be away from home.
Tips to overcome this
However, it is never the end of the world. Placements like these really teach you about life. Although you may find it hard to begin with, it will make you a stronger person in the end and will really help in the future. I did a few simple things to help with the homesickness.
Call friends and family, catch up with them, meet with friends that you’ve made on placement as its better than staying at home alone. I also watched primarily British comedy shows, to remind you of home and keep you laughing.
I also appreciate being on my year abroad because I think about all the endless assignments, essays, presentations and exams that I would have to do if I was still at university. This year I can almost say I am relaxed (although being at university for the last 2 years has given me this constant feeling that I should always be doing something, and that if I am not then I get a terrible feeling of guilt on my conscience).
Being away from home now, for almost 3 months deep in cold, snowy Russia, with no one on my course with me has been tough. But I have thought about the positives, about this once in a lifetime experience. And it’s only 2 weeks until I come home for Christmas!