Signs That Your International Student Is Homesick And How To Help Them

Have you noticed that your student has been overly quiet, has little to no appetite, no motivation or seems withdrawn from everyone and everything? He or she may be experiencing homesickness. Being homesick is very common when a student comes to spend a year in a new country, in a new school, away from their family and friends and everything they know. Just because a student is homesick, that does not mean they do not like their Host Family or school. There are many signs to tell that a student is homesick and there are different ways to help them overcome their homesickness that will ensure all parties involved enjoy their time together.

Symptoms can be either emotional, physical, behavioral or any combination. Below you will find a list of examples of these symptoms. Some are harder to spot than others and students will show them in different ways.

Emotional Symptoms:
Feelings of loss
Lack of motivation
Sad and insecure

Physical Symptoms:
Aching limbs
Change in or loss of appetite
Heart palpitations
Panic attacks
Sleep disturbances- not sleeping or constantly sleeping
Stomachache or headaches

Behavioral Symptoms:
Constantly speaking about home or comparing everything to home
High levels of irritability
Withdrawal or unwillingness to engage in or commit to social events

Once you realize that your student is demonstrating symptoms of homesickness, there are many ways to help them. The first step is to acknowledge it and talk to your student about what they are feeling and try to understand why they are feeling homesick. It might help to talk about their home, family and friends. It will show your student that you care about them, how they feel and are interested in their life. A great way to help your student overcome homesickness is to help them get involved and keep busy. This could be joining a sports team at school, or a club that they are interested in, going to a gym, or meeting with other international students who are in the area. There are many ways for your student to keep busy, you can take them to see a movie or show, head to a local museum or art gallery, see a professional sporting event, anything that will get them up and moving and their mind off home! One of the key components to helping your student is just by supporting them. Aside from talking to them and welcoming them as part of your family, attend one of their sporting events to cheer them on, or one night cook a meal that is native to their home and everyone pitch in to make it a family night!

Your international student will start getting used to their new life and home, things will get easier for them. They will make friends, get more involved and soon enough they will be happy and enjoying their time here with you and your family. Be patient and always be there for your student. The littlest thing can make the biggest difference in helping your student overcome homesickness. And always remember that you have support from us here at the national office as well as from your GEC.