When I first decided that I was going to do a year abroad in my degree, I knew that it would involve being by myself. Like moving out to university for the first time, without the comfort blanket of being able to go home easily if things got bad. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret the decision at all. Luckily I enjoy my own company, and getting on that plane and coming to Gainesville was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done in my life. However seeing updates on social media about things happening at home and university does make me miss it, or just feel like I am missing out. All the new people in the clubs I’m involved in, bonfire night, watching the Christmas lights switch on in the city centre, LetsDisko and Wednesday night sport socials… it is all a whole lot of FOMO!
It’s not all events that I’m missing, it’s the people. No matter how long you’ve known them, it still becomes difficult to communicate properly over 4,000 miles of ocean and a 5 hour time difference. As I get up, it’s already approaching the afternoon back at home, and in my evenings, more often than not everybody has already gone to sleep! I’ve gotten used to it now, sort of, but that doesn’t stop me feeling any less detached.
If I had to give one piece of advice; it would be to video chat rather than message. Apps like Skype and FaceTime allow you that face-to-face conversation that messaging or emailing just doesn’t compare to. You can’t read into anything too much, you get to see their face, show them things (e.g. I was talking to my parents on campus, and gave them a quick little tour!). It may not make much of a difference to you, but I find it more comforting.
Another thing that I’ve learnt is not to let it bother you if you don’t hear from people for a while. Just because you don’t talk to that person (or those people) that you sat in lectures with nearly every day, doesn’t mean that you’re drifting apart and won’t be able to sit with them again when you come back. It’s like those friends you went to high school or college with, but separated ways at university. When you go back home, it’s obviously not going to be the same because you’ve grown up, had new experiences and met new people. But more often than not you can just pick up where you left off – but this time you have a lot of new stories to tell!
One final thing I would recommend would be to send postcards/letters (although not being in a tourist-y town, postcards are rather hard to come by!). It sounds cheesy and it’s basically snail mail (everything posted to me takes at least a fortnight), but it’s incredibly personal. I got a couple of cards in my postbox last week that I wasn’t expecting, and they definitely put a huge smile on my face that I couldn’t wipe off for the rest of the day. It reminded me that they were thinking of me, and that I wasn’t being forgotten whilst I was here. And it’s a lovely feeling to receive messages from people you’ve sent things to letting you know they’ve received them.
Has anybody else got any tips to combat the FOMO? Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time, readers!