Leaving your home country to study abroad in Italy is a life-changing decision that can open up plenty of wonderful opportunities to learn, explore, and grow as an individual. But like anyone who has moved to a new city or taken a long trip knows, it can take a little time to settle into new surroundings. Occasional feelings of homesickness are completely normal when studying abroad – and something many students go through during that initial adjustment period. After all, you’ve come a long way to attend university in Italy, and the distance from family and old friends may have you longing for the familiar during your first days in a new city.
But not to worry. To ensure that you have the best possible experience while you study abroad in Rome, we’ve put together a few tried and tested tips to help new students avoid homesickness – and get busy enjoying one of the best times of their lives.
Get Involved and Make New Friends
Homesickness often stems from feeling like you don’t belong. A great way to combat this feeling is to get involved in activities on campus and in the local community. We suggest checking out the John Cabot University Cultural Program, which hosts a wide variety of workshops, day and weekend trips for students. You’ll get to know and feel comfortable with your new Italian environment while making friends with students – an ideal solution for anyone who feels a bit lonely or out of place. Of course, you can stay on campus and still find plenty of opportunities to get social. True to its diverse culture, John Cabot hosts a wide range of student clubs and organizations. Take your pick, get involved, and see your homesickness just melt away.
Maintain Healthy Habits
Exercise and good food are proven to stimulate the release of certain endorphins in the body— natural “feel good” hormones that keep us in a positive mood. When we feel homesick, it can be easy to slide into bad habits like staying indoors too often, or snacking on less-than-nutritious comfort food.
To kick your “happy” endorphins into high gear, try taking a walk or jog up Monte Mario in Rome, or bike a stretch of the world-famous Appian Way – one of Rome’s most ancient roads, built in 312 B.C.E. Both of these activities will give you a great view of the city and some very impressive architecture, all while naturally improving your frame of mind.
Keep a Positive Journal of Experiences
If left unchecked, homesickness and other negative feelings can snowball over time, until eventually it’s hard to see the positive side of anything. One excellent way to help banish negativity is to keep a daily journal in which you document all the positive aspects of your time abroad. You may also keep little mementos (like receipts or tickets) in your journal to remind you of all the amazing experiences you’ve had so far in Europe. But if you need to talk to someone, make sure to visit JCU’s free and confidential Counseling Services.
Make a Bucket List
Making a bucket list is a great way to set goals for your study abroad while maintaining a positive view of your time away from home. Your bucket list might include activities like attending the opera, taking a weekend trip to the beach, or making a wish at the Trevi Fountain. Or maybe you’ll plan to travel back in time by visiting a romantic Italian castle – many are only a train ride away from the Eternal City, such as:
- Villa d’Este in Tivoli
- Odescalchi Castle, Bracciano
- Castello Orsini, Soriano nel Cimino
What other tips would you share for avoiding homesickness?