How to Make a Foreign Place Feel Like Home


As I enter into the halfway mark of my semester abroad, I reflect on how I’ve made Florence my home away from home. Being away from home can be difficult, especially in a completely foreign place. I hope my personal experience can help anyone who is having difficulty being away from home, whether it be that you go to school far from home or you’re also studying abroad. 

Take walks

One thing that has helped me avoid the homesick blues is doing things in Florence that I would normally do at home or at school. One thing that I always love doing is taking walks. Alone or with friends, it’s a great way for me to slow down, unplug and take in the scenery. Granted, when I take walks at home, it’s in a neighborhood of rows of houses that all look the same. So, this is hands down one of my favorite things to do in Florence because I get lost in the beautiful architecture and historical monuments. Passing faces, the aroma of espresso beans and little dogs EVERYWHERE; it sure isn’t Ohio (it’s 10x better) and it makes me feel at peace with where I am. So, whether it’s somewhere across the ocean from home or just hours away, take a walk and explore the area around you. 

Go to coffee shops

I often go to coffee shops to study or write at home and at Kent. Something about coffee shops can give you a sense of coziness. Sitting in a place with people coming and going while enjoying a nice caffeinated beverage is something you can’t beat. While in Florence, I’ve been shuffling to different coffee shops trying to find my favorite one, but honestly, nothing compares to Scribbles in Kent. Nevertheless, the places I’ve discovered in Florence still give me that cozy feeling like I’m back home. 

Push yourself out of your comfort zone

Being far away from everything that makes you comfortable gives you an opportunity to do things out of your comfort zone, SO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT. Do things you wouldn’t normally do, introduce yourself to new people, talk to the stranger sitting next to you at a restaurant, try new food. Soon enough, you’ll be back home falling into your same daily pattern. It might be awkward at first but at the end of the day you’ll thank yourself for doing these things because that’s what makes being away from home worth it are the memories you’ll have when you get back. 

Tell your friends and family you miss them

In my period of reflecting, something that I realized is how much I spend time with my family and how much they do for me. This is the first time I’ve been away from home long enough to really miss them. When you miss your family or your friends, I invite you to reflect on how much they do for you and TELL THEM! This has been the hardest part of studying abroad for me has been being away from my sister and parents. Yes, of course I miss my comfy bed and my collection of shoes back home, but nothing compares to how much I miss my people. 

Nothing will ever replace the place you call home, but the combination of the wonder of a new place and finding home in small things you do can get pretty dang close.