As a third-year Film and English student, I am currently abroad in Sweden, specifically in a city called Lund. It’s a very pretty city, with lovely buildings and architecture, and though there isn’t much to do beyond drink and go out, the neighbouring cities do offer a lot to do.
However, living abroad is a lot more than the city, in fact the hardest part about living abroad isn’t the lack of things to do or the location you choose, it’s all upstairs; in the head. Day to day life can begin to feel bogged down by a constant feeling of dissociation from the place you are in and by loneliness or separation from what you are used to.
For me, loneliness is more prevalent, especially when I find it hard to make friends. On top of this, I am away from my partner, which doubles my feeling of separation. However, I try to stay positive, enjoy my time abroad because I am painfully aware that it is slowly coming to a close and don’t want to look back and think about how I was lonely or sad. It can be difficult but allowing yourself moments to feel how you feel and embrace those sad seconds can allow for a great catharsis.
I found that in my first weeks I was trying too hard to keep happy, forcing myself to keep upright, but that was only making it worse. I gave myself days or hours to just feel homesick or upset or to reminisce about home. There would be times where I would call my boyfriend to just cry or talk to him, just because I needed a couple of minutes to just let it out.
Thus, my biggest tip about going on a year abroad or simply, living abroad for an extended period of time, is to acknowledge those feelings, feel them, give yourself a bit of time with them and then move on. Emotions are scary, but at the end of the day, it is far smaller of a mountain to climb when those feelings come in small doses.
And for those going into a year abroad with a partner, don’t get into the doomed mindset, a year abroad is not a deathwish to your relationship, in fact, it can strengthen what you have. Think about it like this, this year, or whatever period of time, is one, singular year, in the rest of your life. Enjoy it while you can, because, before you know it, you’ll be back in Southampton, slugging Jesticles and nudging people out of the way in Sobar.