The Realities of FOMO While Studying Abroad

Remember when you were dreaming about the day you’d finally have that perfect getaway? Maybe you thought about traveling to Barcelona and trying fresh tapas, or exploring the city views in Madrid and quickly Instagramming every moment. After your long, adventurous days, you are so excited to tweet those perfect pics and share with your collegiate friends and family. You’ve gotta keep everyone up to date on your adventures, right? What is a better way other than by posting online with a fun caption to describe your experience?

Perfect, after you’ve uploaded your pictures, people are instantly liking and commenting about how much fun you are having, wishing you safe travels, and gushing over how much they have missed you. Although, something doesn’t feel right. As you start looking through your own news feed and see others post about a recent event they attended with other friends, you start to feel homesick and left out because you should be there too. You begin to realize you’ve been missing your own friends at your fave, local spots downtown and the activities you used to do every day.  

It is alright to feel left behind and empty without your network back home. You aren’t the only one feeling this way too. Everyone experiences a bit of “Fear of Missing Out,” otherwise known as FOMO differently.

FOMO is a natural feeling to have when being away because you begin to realize how long you’ve been gone and that you can feel a little lost being in an unfamiliar place. BUT, don’t freak out and feel like you need to quickly catch up with everyone through social media. Then, you end up being glued to your smartphone and miss out on what’s going on around you. It can be challenging to determine how to prioritize studying abroad vs. keeping in touch with home. It’s alright to miss home, but you want to stay in the present of where you currently are, so you can enjoy this once in a lifetime experience for yourself.

Instead of feeling like you need to isolate yourself and spend every second chatting with your friends, here are our helpful tips to maintain a healthy balance while staying in touch with your college friends and family so you can enjoy all the exciting adventures of studying abroad:

Focus on Making the Most of Studying Abroad

The reality is that there isn’t much you can do for others while being thousand of miles away because everyone is distracted by what is going on in their own world. Focus on what others are doing many miles away is far from beneficial for yourself because not only will you be missing out the action there, you’ll start missing out on the action where you are. Before you feel the full FOMO panic, try to reach out to someone back home and schedule a good time to chat, so you don’t feel alone. The sole purpose of studying abroad is to give YOU the personal growth, professional tools, and lifetime experience of discovering something new for yourself. When you are tossed out of your comfort zone, it’s the most important time for you to grow as a person.

Your friends will always be there when you arrive back home, but don’t miss out on making new friends throughout the trip. Take the initiative to get to know your trip coordinators and the other young women (and men) you are experiencing this journey with too. They are here for the same reasons you are, so it should be easy to make one or a few or many new friends! Plus, it can always be a good idea to grow your professional network.

Organize Phone Call Dates

Before heading off to the airport, make sure you plan a weekly schedule to catch up with family and friends. It doesn’t have to be consistent, and if you can’t make it because you are having too much fun, just let them know. Communication is key. It’s a good decision to discuss what days or times work best and also decide how you will communicate; texting, video chatting or phone calls. Especially with parents, it’s important to set boundaries when it comes to keeping in touch while abroad. Some examples are Skype, Viber or Ovoo, which are great for communicating with multiple people at once. WhatsApp is a simple, secure and reliable messenger, which may be a good option to communicate with family to send videos, pictures or messages. This should help everyone feel more comfortable and look forward to hearing from you.

Follow Along On Social Media

Social media is a great tool to stay in touch with everyone at once and share your greatest adventures. It’s like they are on the trip with you because they can easily follow along. Fortunately, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook have the live feature so you can use that to your advantage. Also, use the opportunity to stay in touch with your campus or other organizations you are associated with. Some universities feature students as guest Instagrammers or bloggers so other students can connect with them and vice versa. This can be a great professional development opportunity to kickstart your social media or travel blogger career!

Although, be careful not to spend too much time on social media because it can create overwhelming feelings of FOMO and you don’t want to be on your phone the entire time. You want to be present in the moment and enjoy what is going on around you.

Don’t Forget About Snail Mail

Scope out some cute postcards and stamps from local gift shops and then reflect your FOMO away as you draft thoughtful letters to your family and friends. Pinterest also has some cute DIY ideas for care packages so you can add unique souvenirs, tasty snacks, and pictures of the city along with your handwritten letter! Be sure to give your friends and family your address too so they can send you stuff you may have forgotten or missed.

We also encourage taking a planner or journal so you can keep your agenda at your fingertips. If you want to take notes of the places you visited or learned about, you can keep track of it all in your cute journal. Don’t forget to grab contact information from the new friends you made on the trip too so you can connect with them in the future and recover from your missing abroad FOMO in the same ways when you get back home.

Being in a new place can be really exciting, but throughout the trip, you may feel like you are in a whole different world, alone. It doesn’t have to be terrifying, as long as you take deep breaths and confide in with others around you because you never know what this crazy experience will bring unless you stick it out. This journey is all about what you make it, so take advantage of all the opportunities you can. Others on the trip may have FOMO feelings too so try and reach out to them if you are feeling lost. It can be good to get know your peers and bond over this scary adventure together. Soon, you will be reunited with your BFF’s at home, but don’t miss out on the time you have to make the memories abroad that you’ll share with them when you get back.

About the Author

Hey everyone! I am currently a senior at Sacramento State and I am studying Communications Studies with an emphasis in Public Relations. I joined PINC International to learn more about traveling abroad and to improve my writing skills. I love shopping and learning more about professional growth. Feel free to read my articles and ask me any questions or connect with me on social media.

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