Monday, May 6, 2013

Peanut Butter Costs How Much?! Dealing With Being Homesick Abroad

After being abroad for almost four months, I am starting to really miss certain comforts that are much easier to find in America. I've been fine surviving without them, but there is nothing like waking up to a warm breakfast burrito or a to-go cup of chai . Whether you miss your family, dog, car, friends, or food, being homesick is completely normal and expected, and here is a guide to dealing with it.

Family and Friends:
Thank goodness of modern technology. No longer do we have to hope that the postcard we sent at the beginning of the semester might arrive home before we do. Video chat like Skype and Facetime, and apps like Viber, make communicating with your friends and family very easy. Granted, your internet might be temperamental/non-existent in your apartment, but there are plenty of cafes with WiFi (and the school has internet). Of course, sending postcards is still nice, too.
Make new friends! My program has about 65 students and many of us are also friends with students in Erasmus (European study abroad), and then of course there are so many Italians you can meet and befriend. It may be daunting at first. I still remember how terrified I was the first day, not knowing anyone, but you just have to keep an open mind and be up to going out and getting to know others.

Your Pet:
Although you might not be able to cuddle with them, there are adorable and beautiful dogs everywhere in Torino and around Europe. Seriously, it is almost ridiculous. Be careful can be really hard to resist not stealing one.

The two top foods I have heard people talk about missing are peanut butter and Mexican. There is peanut butter here! It does exist! But it is expensive. For me, Nutella is a perfect replacement.
There are Mexican restaurants in Torino (in fact, I'm going to one tonight for Cinco de Mayo). The taste is not what we are used to in America, but it is still delicious non the less. I like the one in Piazza Vittorio.
If there is a snack, you feel like you can not live without, bring some with you. I didn't want to waste the luggage space.
Find new food! I've fallen in love with these hazelnut pirouette-like cookies from LIDL (a European grocery store), and I may or may not be stuffing my face with some now...they are very dangerous.
There is other food here, so don't worry about getting sick of Italian food. We have a lot sushi, middle eastern, and kebab places, and can anybody really ever get sick of gelato?
When you first order a coffee, you may be surprised to find about a gulp's worth in an "espresso" cup. To-go cups are basically not existent and the biggest coffee you will probably find is a small cappuccino. But, in Torino we have a Starbucks look alike called Busters, and they have to-go cups in varying sizes along with frappes and bagels!

Your Car:
Enjoy walking and the public transportation! Depending on where you live in the states, you probably don't get the opportunity often. As much as I miss blasting the radio and having the convenience of a car, I love how much I walk! I get that much more time to enjoy the city. I know a lot of students who prefer the metro to the bus, but I usually choose the bus of the metro because I can see more of the city riding it. Now, I'm just worried I might forget how to drive.

Stores that Stay Open Late:
There is nothing like a Target here. No late night grocery or convience stores. It is just about a matter of getting used to it. Make sure you do all you necessary shopping during the day. Most stores close at 7:30, grocery stores at 8. If your hungry at night, go for kebab or slice of pizza. Spend your night roaming the city and experiencing the night life.

TV and Movies:
There is a movie theater downtown that shows a movie in English once a week. But why not go see an Italian movie for fun! There are plenty of websites that allow you to watch american TV and movies, although a lot of those sites can be sketchy. Netflix and Hulu don't work. But why not read a book instead, or spend your time outside in the city especially if the weather is as beautiful as it has been. And honestly I haven't really had time to watch TV even if I wanted to. There is always either school work that has to be done, I'm traveling, or enjoying Torino and my friends here too much.

And If You Just Feel Really Homesick and Don't Know What To Do:
Cry. It's okay, most get homesick at some point for any number of reasons. Don't be afraid to let your feelings out. Your roommate or friend might be feeling the same way. So watch a sad movie, stay in bed all day, take a really long shower, and eat comfort food. It helps to take personal days even while abroad. You can't be expected to be always on the go and experiencing life even when you are living in an amazing city.
Distract yourself. Go for a walk or run. Take a bus or a train to someplace new. Visit a museum. Get lost. Try new food. Spend time with friends. Draw. Write. Photograph. Dance. Cook. Read. Study.
And there are always people to talk to, whether you skype family or friends back home to vent, reminisce with friends here about what you miss from home, or talk to someone in the program office.

Remember you are going to be home before you know it so try to enjoy the experience of living in a city abroad as much as possible. I already know I am going to miss Torino terribly.

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