Cusco

There’s No Place Like Home (Or Is There?)

Maddy Breeling is a student at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Cusco, Peru.

I was recently asked what is the thing I was least prepared for when studying abroad: the cost, the schoolwork, the altitude? Those things may be true, but the biggest challenge for me and the thing I did not prepare myself for was the overwhelming feelings of missing home. Before you leave for your trip you are constantly told about the “Study Abroad Curve.” They explain that you will start at the top, loving absolutely everything about your new place and exploring every inch of the city. Then, approximately a month in, you will begin to slide down the curve and enter the “homesick” stage. At first, I didn’t believe them and wondered how I could ever get tired of such a beautiful place, but slowly I realized they were right. Everything that was once new, exciting and quirky about my city became too different and I began to crave home. I longingly looked at pictures of what my friends were doing without me, dreamed about the foods from my hometown, and craved everything with my host language in it. But the most important and most difficult part of the curve was the swing back upwards. I realized it was vital for my study abroad to not stay in the slump, but ride it back to the top or risk ruining my entire experience. So, now perched pleasantly back at the top, here are my 3 tips for getting over homesickness and falling back in love with your city

  1. Indulge yourself– Its completely normal to miss home and want to have the things you are used to. So, let yourself have one day to eat all the foods you have been craving, speak your own language, watch your favorite shows and do everything you have been missing. Give yourself the time to have these things so you can get over the cravings and truly appreciate the unique atmosphere around you.
  2. Don’t dwell– Who knows when you will ever be back to this place again so after your day of pampering, it’s time to throw off the negativity and think positively. Personally, it took me a while to realize this and after several days full of complaints about missing my favorite local restaurants from home, I realized that one day I will miss the restaurants here so I should enjoy them while I can. Dwelling on the things you miss from home hinders your ability to enjoy your experience fully and keep an open mind to your new opportunities.
  3. Find your new favorite thingsTrying new things can be scary and you may think you will never find something that compares to what you have at home, but I can tell you that that is wrong. Although the things may be different, they can be just as good, or even better. Your new favorite TV show, favorite park to rest at, and favorite new fruit are just waiting to be discovered. So don’t waste any more time thinking about the past, but focusing on your amazing present.
Salt Terraces, Cusco, Peru, Breeling 1

I never hiked much before my study abroad and now it is one of my new favorite activities in Peru. In this picture I am in the Salt Terraces in the Sacred Valley, only an hour from Cusco City.

Being away from home and the life you have always known can be difficult, but finding a way to pass those negative feelings and accept that your comfort bubble has officially been popped will only make the experience more worthwhile. There is no place exactly like home, but there are certainly places that can feel just as homey.

The world awaits…discover it.

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