All Posts By

Amarens Elise

International Friendship

The 10 Biggest Struggles of Having International Friends

International friends rock, and nothing worth while comes easy. That is exactly why having international friends comes with it’s fair share of struggles. Here are the ten biggest ones.

1. You want to tell them a joke but it only works in your native language

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2. Whenever you have a party, 90% of the people you want to invite aren’t even in the country

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3. Instead of asking “How are you?” you ask “Where are you?”

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4. But the biggest problem with international friends is that at some point, one of you leaves

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5. You realize you will probably never have all of your friends in one place

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6. You have so many places to stay for free, but no money for plane tickets

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7. To talk to your favorite people, you have to spend way more time on your phone than you’d like

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8. And you are dependent on your internet connection

9. And then there is the struggle of finding the right time to Skype

Okay so you add 8 hours, minus one for daylight savings and... it's 3am your time. FML.

10. But no matter how hard you try, once you’ve gone international you will never go back

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What other struggles would you add to this list?

Living Abroad

5 Apps to Make Friends When You Are New In Town

“Isn’t there something like Tinder but just to make friends?” 

Yes, there is. For everyone who has been waiting to match with people before they meet, or those who are simply looking to make some new friends; there are plenty of options out there for you.

Part of an international existence is that every once in a while you have to start over completely.

Depending on where you work or study it may be easy to find new friends, but if you are not so lucky; don’t worry. The Internet is here to help you.

So, put your friend face on and let’s get matchin’

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1. Bumble BFF

Same idea as Tinder Social, the app Bumble also has a BFF section within the dating app.

From their own website;

“Bumble users were requesting the ability to keep the app when they were in a relationship because they had found friends on the app. They were already entering their same gender into the “show me” settings to try to find friends. We often heard requests for a friend-finding feature from users who were new to new cities or on vacations. Lastly, we were incredibly excited about creating BFF because it lessens the limitations of the app, and this expansion of use reflects the brand more accurately as an all-compassing component to the people’s communication and lifestyle.

Once BFF is selected, you’re shown all other people of the same gender who are also looking for BFFs. All BFF communications are marked with our new callout mint color from matching screen to expiring queue, to conversation list and conversation bubbles. We are incredibly excited about the ability to help people find anyone from a new BFF to a best man.”


2. CouchSurfing 

Most people know Couchsurfing from having strangers crash their sofa, but Couchsurfing also offers a lot of events and meet-ups between travelers and local people who either have a free sofa, or those who don’t but still want to show new people around.

Because CouchSurfing already has such a big network you will undoubtedly be able to find people living nearby who would love to meet up.

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When trying to find a sofa match some people also indicate they don’t have a couch for you, but they are up for having drinks and getting to know new people, so even if you already have a place to live you can simply send around some messages to local people on CouchSurfing and see who is interested in socializing with you.

Plus, when you are already settled in you yourself can meet up with travelers coming to town and show them around.

According to their website “Couchsurfing is a global community of 14 million people in more than 200,000 cities who share their life, their world, their journey. Couchsurfing connects travelers with a global network of people willing to share in profound and meaningful ways, making travel a truly social experience.”


3. CitySocializer

As the name indicates this app caters mostly to larger cities. Nonetheless, this is a great way to socialize when you have just moved there or when you are simply traveling around and you would like to make some local contacts.

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From their website

“Citysocializer is the local, social life app to do more of the things you like with people going out around you. A place that combines having fun with new people offline, and a place to stay in touch with them online as your new network grows.

The latest pop-ups and art shows, running in the parks, a glass of wine after work or a coffee and Sunday movie – the community host socials for each other and invite you to join them.

Knowing how tough it could be to meet new likeminded people in cities – whether to find a better social life or being new to a city – we nurtured our first real-world community in London and today have grown to every major city in the UK, New York, Chicago, and Washington.”


This may be a good option for those who move to a new city with a friend, but still want to get out to socialize a bit with the locals.

CLIQ allows you to create a group with one or two other friends and match with other friend groups.

5. Meet My Dog

Saving the best for last!

“A fresh breed of social apps for you and your dog”

For all the people out there who think animals are better than people – you are so right.

The internet has provided us with options for people like us.

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Meet My Dog allows you to browse through the dogs that live near you and meet up with them and their humans.

Honestly, what could be better than meeting new dogs and the people who own them?


Similar apps to Meet my dog are; Sniffr and Pets Amino

With the entire internet at your fingertips, there is no reason to remain friendless.

Do you know any app that hasn’t been mentioned in this post? Please let us know in the comments!



18 Signs You Are Suffering From PTD (Post Travel Depression)

1. You start all your stories with “When I was abroad…”

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2. And it drives people crazy

3. You will talk to people in a language they don’t speak

Yes really. You will.

4. You realize you don’t even speak your native language anymore

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5. You realize you picked up a few strange habits

Like eating at unusual hours

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6. You start remembering all the little things from your time abroad – even the bad times

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7. You miss the feeling of discovering new things

8. You miss all of new contacts you made abroad

9. .. and you realize that because they live all over the world, you might never get to see them all together in one place again

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10. You keep checking flight tickets to see how much it costs to get away again


11. Thinking “if I leave tomorrow at 3 in the morning I could fly there for only 300$, and be back before Monday”

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12. At the same time realizing it won’t be the same

12. You drop everything you are doing when you hear someone mentioning the places you have been to


13. And you just have to join the conversation and say  ‘Hello’

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14. You just don´t fit in anymore in your home country

15. Missing the food like crazy

16. Sometimes you pretend to travel by opening Google Street View

17. You realize it was way harder to come back than it was to go

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18. And even though you spent way too much money, you would do it again in a heartbeat


10 Pieces Of Minimalist Travel Jewellery You Need Right Now

I am quite the minimalist when it comes to jewellery, and I don’t usually spend much money on it either.

After all, every penny spend on material things is a penny not spent on travel, am I right?

But these minimalist travel items were just too beautiful not to buy, and only proved what we all already know; less is more.

Let’s just say that even hurricane Harvey would be impressed by how much I made it rain with money.

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But when I came across these items I just had to have them.

In fact, I needed more than to have them. I wanted to sell them in my shop. So I did a little more research and finally found a way to add all of these magical items to my own shop and share them with you.

So here is some shameless promotion of some items I am sure you will love just as much as I love them.

1. This super classy golden airplane bracelet

Why not get started with my favorite?

It’s so simple and yet so amazing.

Golden Airplane Necklace

2. The stylish solution to all your hair tie problems

I have actually had this bracelet for a while and I love it!

It prevents your wrist from being soar after you have had a hair tie around it that was just a liiittle too tight (haven’t we all been there?) and it is also just a really simple but good looking bracelet.


You can even spice it up by using a hair tie in a fancy color, or just go for a classic black-white look.

3. The geometric hummingbird

Do I really need to explain why I like it?

It’s just so cute!

4. This classy compass bracelet or necklace


5. This golden leaf earring

Which is also available in silver.

6. This world map necklace

Because who doesn’t want the world hanging around their neck

7. More specifically for the Africa lovers among us

This way you will always have your continent close to your heart

8. This little golden paper plane

The more environmentally responsible option.

9. This super cute pineapple

As we are heading into fall, don’t we all need a little reminder of those tropical summers

And last but certainly not least

10. This mountain ring

I mean ridge. Ring.

As a Dutch person, I can always appreciate mountains, and this little ring was all I needed to share my appreciation more publicly.


These are my personal favorites that are travel themed, but many more items have been added to the shop (all personally vetted by me). Make sure to check out all the other great new stuff, and not just the jewellery section.

New items have also been added to the fashion department, travel accessories or notebooks.

Oh and as a bonus

Check out this travel watch to let you know that it is always travel o’clock

Please let me know what you think of these items and which one is your personal favorite! 


English As a Second Language: Who in Europe Speaks it Best?


This article was originally shared on

English as a second language is becoming more and more competitive. Due to the weight the language carries in the modern, professional world, speaking English is fast becoming less of a benefit and more of an essential, or even basic, requirement when looking for a job in Europe.

Approximately 2 billion people study English worldwide and some countries find it easier than others to pick it up. Throughout the emerging generations of many nationalities, proficiency is almost ubiquitous as people are becoming more and more serious about language learning. For example, companies like ESL offer language courses abroad, giving people the opportunity to properly immerse themselves in a new culture.

Based on the percentage of English proficiency in the adult population, here’s the list!


10)  Belgium

The Belgian people have increased their overall English level since the 2015 figures and their hard work has bumped them up into the top 10 countries who speak English as a second language best! Welcome to the list Belgium.

9)  Poland           

With more and more Poles moving and working abroad their need to learn English has increased too. However, Polish as a language is on the rise in the UK, as Brits fall in love with Polish expats and look to learn their language.

8)  Germany    

 The Germans, with their industrial efficiency, have always had a firm grip of the English language. The modern language of the business world is English and, as German businesses are dominating the European market, the pressure on professionals to speak English to a proficient level is higher than ever.

7)  Austria       

Just beating its geographical and linguistic neighbours to the number 7 spot, is Austria. Sharing its borders with a whopping eight countries, it’s little wonder that the people of Austria have an aptitude for languages.

6)  Luxembourg            

For the very same reasons as Austria, it is hardly a shock to see this tiny landlocked country so high on the list. With heavy influences from both East and West, the country has three official languagesFrenchGerman and Luxembourgish – and on top of that, well over half of the adult population having a proficient level of English!


5)  Finland          

We start to head more to the north of Europe as we near the top of the list. Finland has a population of just under 5.5 million people, and almost 70% of its adult population speak high-level English.

4)  Norway                         

Norway is far from a surprise entry in at number four. The Norse languages also have had a huge influence on the English language after the occupation of the Vikings over a thousand years ago.

3)  Sweden        

Sweden has been knocked off the top spot and slip into third place since the 2015 stats. However, their reputation for about as near-native English as you can get, remains strong and I´m sure they’ll be back with a vengeance.     

2)  Denmark      

As approach the grand finale, the countries are becoming less and less surprising. Denmark, yet another Scandinavian country, comes in a number two. The language of the Danes is also growing in demand in Europe, but who could possibly have beaten them to the top spot in terms of English proficiency?!

1)  Netherlands              

Congratulations to the Dutch, not only on their ability to invent hilarious surnames, but also on their ability to speak the English language. Their linguistically gifted population has knocked the Swedes off the number one position…for now.

This list refers to Europe, however if it included all the countries in the world (obviously where English is not a native language) it would be almost identical but countries six to ten would each slip one place lower, as Singapore would slot in at number six.

It is unsurprising to see the top four dominated by Nordic countries – and the Netherlands. They have an increasing knack for topping lists, having very high living standardspopulation satisfaction as well as cost of livingGermany may have been Europe’s most popular country but they are maybe lower than you would have expected considering their mechanical proficiency in most things.  

Also – and I believe this to be key – in the Nordic countries they do not dub the television into their own languages. Whereas, in FranceSpain and even Germany, they translate the television into the country language, despite the majority of TV shows being American or English.

There is also a noticeable lack of southern European countries, with Austria being the southernmost point of the list.  But, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Dutch reign supreme over the non-native English speaking world. In fact, I regularly meet Dutch and Scandinavian people and assume that they, like me, are English; that’s how flawless their accents are.

Inspired to improve your English or master a new language? There are several free apps such as Duolingo, as well as YouTube channels where you can receive free lessons. With today’s resources you’ve got no excuse for being monolingual!  





5 Top Tips for Saving Money When You’re on Holiday

Looking to head off on a holiday in the next few weeks or months? Travelling abroad can forge memories which’ll last forever, but that doesn’t mean it won’t cost you a pretty penny in the process. If you’re looking to save as much as you can on your travels, take heed of these five tips for saving money when you’re on holiday.

1. Cook your own meals

It might seem like a hassle to do so, but cooking your own meals when you’re out on holiday is a clever way of saving a few pennies on your overall travel expenses. Unless you’ve paid for an all-inclusive vacation where the food is provided for you, you’ll definitely save money preparing dishes at your accommodation.

There are several different types of meals you’ll be able to easily produce for yourself, all of which are relatively easy and tasty. Make it fun by using natural and locally sourced ingredients from the area you’re staying in.


  2. Travel in low season

Heading out during a time of the year when prices are reduced is a smart way of saving money if you’ve got your heart set on visiting a load of tourist attractions. These might see the price of your vacation skyrocket if you hit them in the hotter months.

Generally speaking, travel in the winter or autumn months (which’ll be dependent on the part of the globe the country is in) will result in you experiencing a massive decrease in prices across the board. The tourist traps will still be there, but with less custom they’re likely to not offer such extortionate prices.

3. Don’t waste money on frivolous things

There’s no end to the ridiculous trinkets available for purchase from the markets and stalls you’ll find strewn along wherever it is you’re visiting. Souvenirs seem like a great idea in the moment, but do they really serve a purpose in the long-term?

The silliest souvenirs out there are often some of the more expensive, with the likes of t-shirts, “traditional” clothing, rugs and even vuvuzelas just a small selection of the ridiculous types of things people will come back from a holiday with. They’re a waste of cash, and something you won’t appreciate as soon as a few weeks after you’re home.

4. Budget

When it comes to saving money on holiday, it stands to reason you’ll be able to make a positive difference if you sit down before heading out and give yourself a strict budget to adhere to while you’re away.

Giving yourself a set amount you’re willing to spend every day will cap how much you’re leaking when it comes to funds. While you may need to go above this pre-determined number in case of an emergency, try your best not to.

5. Plan ahead

You can make your trip a little clearer (and therefore theoretically more money-efficient) by plotting out your schedule beforehand. Make the most of holiday planning tools you can find online, to roughly plan where you want to go and what you want to do.

This basic plan of attack doesn’t have to be regimentally stuck to, but it does at least provide you with an outline of where you’ll be going and how much you’ll be spending.

Have these money saving tips helped when it comes to your next holiday? Follow the advice we’ve given here and you should find yourself saving money when it comes to future travel plans.


The Emotional Cost Of Travel

How can you afford to travel all the time? It´s a great question that many would like to know the answer to.  How to get to that state of financial independence that allows you to roam around the world, exploring a new city every month. But sometimes, we forget that the price of travel doesn’t only come in dollars.

Travel as a lifestyle isn´t a ‘normal´ thing. That means that when you decide to travel, it means you have to give up other parts that belong to a normal lifestyle. When you travel often you miss out on a lot of things. A lot of those things are very mundane and are totally worth giving up when seen as one thing. But adding all those little mundane things up you get a lifestyle of comfort and structure, something that becomes harder and harder to maintain when you keep wanting to discover new things.

So the cost of travel doesn’t just come in dollars. It also comes in the feeling of homesickness, because you no longer know where home is. It comes in thousands of international Facebook friends but not as many close friends that you get to hang out with all the time. It comes in having to say goodbye to people, places and feelings even if you don´t want to.
Travel has taught me to be more independent, but sometimes I fear that my independence is getting in the way of me making actual relations with people. Instead, from the moment I meet them I start emotionally preparing for the moment we will have to say good-bye again.

And, maybe the worst part of travel, when you come `home´ and you realize nothing has changed, except you. It feels the same, yet it feels different, because everything you’ve experienced have made you into a different person, with different hopes and dreams, different stories to tell, yet people still have the same hopes and dreams as before and still talk about the same things at the dinner table. It´s that feeling that eventually led to this blog, and all it stands for. “Too foreign for home, too foreign for here, never enough for both” (by Ijeoma Umebinyuo) 

That feeling of not belonging where you are supposed to belong

Now I would be lying if I said it wasn’t worth it. It´s one of those no light without darkness kind of situations, ying and yang, where positive and negative feelings can perfectly balance each other out. But I would also be lying if I said I wasn’t struggling with it. I see people settling down, having all these things that my lifestyle would never allow me to have, yet I know that even if I wanted to, I couldn’t live like that because I’ve been bitten by the so-called travel bug. It´s the burden of knowing what is out there, because what has been seen can never be unseen. The world is too big and too beautiful to live life in one place and I would encourage anyone and everyone to go and live abroad, travel the world and chase all of your dreams. However, you should realize that it´s not only a financial but also an emotional commitment and once you go, you can never go back.

Post-Exchange Life

When Everything Is Possible After Your Exchange

I don’t know if all of you have the same feeling as me after going back home, but here is my story.

I haven’t been shy since I turned 12 and started to wear braces. I never had problems with my look, with having friends or traveling. I was kinda mature, independent and knew what I wanted to do in my life. So my exchange wasn’t exactly about that. But it changed my life the way I wasn’t expecting – all of us experienced this.

The changes started quick (earlier than magic three months). In my case firstly I started to see the change in my body – obviously I gained weight (again like most of us). Later I saw more interesting changes like having feelings different than happiness or sadness (yeah I was kinda heartless before exchange haha). Later I realized how much I have learned and grew up. How problems are not problems anymore.

How being sometimes lonely is not the end of the world. How forcing yourself to be a good exchange student by not staying all the time in your room, trying to talk with host families in a free time, helping them in the house, going for Rotary meetings, helping with Rotary programs, being thankful and even going to school every single day is not that bad and you actually like it.

Changes  go on and on, because exchange is not only going to other country and someone is comings to yours – it’s also in my opinion (ex)changing yourself into a new person who is mostly better you, who will not be recognized by your family or friends, but it’s ok, it’s good, it’s really good! Remember this!

Going to the topic of this post. After all these changes happened I returned home. My parents already knew that I had changed, but my friends didn’t. About some things I hadn´t even though. My friends told me – for example I started to wear dresses, I stopped to friend zone boys and actually started to flirt with them. I didn’t care about what people thought about me any more. Then came first day of school and it began – all the things which seemed impossible for some people were pretty easy. I came to my school knowing only few names (because all my friends have graduated when I was on exchange). None of them were my friend and after less than a month I had friends who I could hang out with, in the first week I wasn’t sitting alone in the classes (and it wasn’t because someone had to sit next to me because of no more free spots) or staying alone on the hallway. After four months I started to have a boyfriend (another huge change at me for my friends who remember my ex from the beginning of high school and few random kisses, because as I mentioned earlier I opened my heart for feeling during the year abroad). I count it as a little success after exchange hahaha

Later I had a huge challenge with organizing Rotary meeting in my city for exchange students in Poland. That’s a thing which is organized by Rotaract club every year and as I’m a member and I didn’t know how hard it was I have decided to do it. I supposed to have a lot of help from others members, but like we all know everyone has their own lives and not everybody can help you and of course I revived some help, but so mostly I had to do everything by myself – luckily one of the guys who was organizing this meeting two years earlier helped me by telling me what I have to do, giving me all the contacts and other stuff, but it was still crazy.

It was all did in three weeks, one of the most difficult weeks in my life, trying to get everything done so all the Rotary people will be happy and what is more important make this three days amazing for almost 60 exchange students. After having a huge problem with booking a hotel, because there was also some other event in my city and all the hotels where booked, I had some other issues and finally few days before I was just praying.

Finally, it all went so good, awesome and exchange students were very satisfied. And from then on I knew that the only way I could have done it is because I “survived” a year on exchange.
During this year I also applied for new in my country Rotary exchange program (New Generation Exchange), which is a program for few weeks (6 weeks to three months) in the other country where You can have an internship. I would never say before my year in US that I will go on next vacation to South America – and I did, I’m here in Colombia.

I stay here for a little bit longer than two month and I feel so good. I feel amazing being exchange student again, living in the other country, meeting new people, learning a language (which we all know is sometimes so hard), traveling and loving it so badly that I don’t wanna go home.

I could go on with things which became possible after coming back home, but I guess this already says enough. I just wanna add; everything is possible during and after your exchange. It’s your life, your new life!

Take chances, don’t overthink it, make this year your year, makes your dream come true during rest of your life and when you come back home remember that you are exchange student and that you will always be, not all the people will understand you, for the closest one or just friends (for me it’s my boyfriend) it may be so hard to figure out why are you going abroad again, why do you keep in touch with people who you met few times and who are miles away from you. But I can tell you one thing – do in Your life whatever YOU want to do and not others wants you to do – be independent, be different, crazy, free and you will have a great time! And now go live your life, have fun and remember you can only reagent things that you haven’t done

This post was written by Magda. She is 20-year-old Polish girl who did her exchange in Colorado, USA.



Exchange Student Problems, Study Abroad 101

How To Beat Homesickness

Homesickness. It is probably something everyone has to deal with at some point in their life, and it´s awful. However, despite what it might feel like, homesickness might not necessarily be about you missing ‘home´ but more about you missing ´a home´, in the sense that you might miss the feeling of a more stable, reliable and familiar situation. The lack of a familiar situation can make you nostalgic for the things you had before, even if you never even liked them at the time (in the academic world, this is called the Nutella Syndrom). This can result in you trying to hold on to the past, which will make the homesick, ending up in a vicious cycle. However, you can break this cycle by following these two steps.

Step 1: Make Peace With Your Old Home

It´s very normal to feel homesick from time to time, but it´s a horrible feeling that ultimately will make all parts of your life much harder. After all, your home what you have known for a big part of your life. The challenge is to find a balance in cherishing the memories, without this interfering with your new life.

Now, in order to get rid of your homesickness you have to make peace with the fact that the place you are longing for is not a reality at the moment, and that doesn´t have to be a bad thing. Things change all the time, and so you have to change. Try not to think in the past but in the future.

A very important part of not trying to live in the past is to make sure the way you are keeping contact with your friends and family back home isn´t taking over your life. If you want to know what the best way to keep contact with home is, click here to read the article ‘How To Keep Contact With Your Friends And Family While Being Abroad´.

One thing that can help is to write yourself a letter about all the things you didn´t like about home. You can write this letter beforehand, in a moment you are angry or upset, but if you are suffering from homesickness right now it might be a better idea to write a list of things you didn´t like. This can be anything from the weather to family arguments or a bad valuta. This is not necessarily to demonize your old home, but for you to find a balance. When feeling homesick people often romanticize and idealize their old home, and ´ ideal´ places could never live up to reality.


Step 2: Create A New Home

This might seem like an obvious one, but getting a new home will most likely take care of the nostalgic feelings you are having about your old home. The best way to do this is to create a routine that you follow. Decorate your place in a way that makes it feel like home. Of course, this is easier said that done, but here are a few things you can think of.

Create A Routine

Try to do certain things at the same time. That means waking up at the same time, taking a morning walk around the same park, getting coffee at the same place, giving a dollar to the same homeless man in front of the supermarket. Creating a new routine will help you find your place when everything is new and will help create a more stable environment.

Part of this might be to decorate your house, and make it into a home! Hang pictures on the wall (preferably pictures that aren´t of your friends and family back home). Try to make it a nice environment that will make you feel comfortable and more at ease.

Learn The Language

When you move to a different place and don´t know the language, it´s hard to expect to feel at home. Learning the language might be hard, but putting in all the effort in the first months will definitely pay off on the long run!

In order to make more contacts, you could also join a Language Exchange group, or ask people around you to help. You would be surprised how many people are willing to help you learn! But don´t forget, you are the outsider, which means you will have to take most of the initiative. Local people already have a social circle and even if they really did enjoy meeting you, for them there is just not the same amount of pressure to make a new friendship or to make an effort to meet you.

Create New Traditions

One of the things we usually miss about our old homes are the traditions. Therefore, an easy solution to missing the old traditions is to make new ones. Have a dinner night at your place every Friday night. Have a certain spot where you and your friends always meet. Try to incorporate some of the local traditions into your daily life. Even if you don´t get them, or they are not the same as they were at home, new traditions will quickly make you feel more at home and before you know it, you´ll be in some other place feeling homesick for the new memories you have created. 


Make Friends

Obviously having a group of friends around you is very beneficial to your well-being, and I don´t think I have to spend any more words explaining why. If you are not sure how to go about making new friends, don´t panic. In the post ‘How To Make Local Friends Abroad´ I explain how you can find yourself some local friends.a

Again, don´t forget, you are the outsider, which means you will have to take most of the initiative. Local people already have a social circle and even if they really did enjoy meeting you, for them there is just not the same amount of pressure to make a new friendship or to make an effort to meet you, which is why it is sometimes hard to make friends abroad. Don´t worry though, realizing why people sometimes don´t  seem to care as much as you do is half of the work. Don´t feel afraid to ask someone again if they couldn´t make it the first time.

If you´d rather have international friends, you might want to consider joining an Expat or Exchange student network. Facebook offers a great amount of Facebook group these days, so just try and search for ‘Expats [ insert city or province name ]´ and see what comes up!

Or maybe you could even join a dating site or use an app like Tinder to go on romantic dates. Having some love in your life could make all the pain go away in a second!

Talk about it

It´s okay to let people know you are struggling with this. Maybe not everyone will understand to the same extent what it feels like to miss home, but the majority of people are more than understanding to the subject, and the fact that they know you are going through this can make them more open and helping towards you.

One of the most comforting things in hard times is knowing that you are not alone. Therefore, it might even be more comforting to speak to other foreigners, as they are probably going through the same process. Even if other people don´t seem to show it, you will probably be surprised how many people are feeling just as miserable as you at times (and are really good at hiding it!). Feel no shame, you are not alone!

Keep a journal

I would recommend everyone to do this. Keeping a diary can help you reflect on your emotions. It´s good to read back things you have written years, months or even days before. It can help you remember the things you maybe didn´t like when you were back home, or how much you longed to go abroad. It can also keep track of your progress in the process of feeling at home in your new place. Reading back the first impressions you had, how lost you felt in the first days will make you realize how far you´ve come already.


In the end, time might be the best remedy. Don´t beat yourself up about, because feeling homesick is natural. Just don´t think that going back home will solve that problem.

If you ever feel the need to talk, you can always reach me through the Nationality Unknown Facebook page


Exchange, Exchange Example Stories

The Exchange Roller Coaster

Being an exchange student is just like riding a roller coaster. Let me explain why.

First of all, you find out about exchange programs in different ways. In my case, I saw a documentary on TV about a French Rotary Exchange Student going to the USA for a year. It was the summer between 7th and 8th grade, and I was not 13 yet. I immediately knew this kind of program was made for me ! But, you know, I was too young… Just like when you go to the amusement park, you really want to try this new ride, but you have to be 5 feet tall, and you’re only 4’8”… So you’re parents tell you that in a couple years you will maybe be able to ride it, but the silently hope for you to forget about this crazy idea.

As soon as I knew such exchange programs existed, I started making research about it, reading blogs, talking on forums etc. And then, And in the beginning of 9th grade, I was officially able to apply, I would have been 15 during my exchange. I was finally 5 feet tall ! But from your parents point of view, you are still too little to ride this roller coaster, too young to go away…

So I just waited another year. And at the end of freshmen year, I applied to what was about to change my life. My parents let me get into the line for this amazing ride !


A very long line, though… That is where it all starts. You fill in paperwork, just like when you show your amusement park pass. You wait in line, you like when you wait for a host country.

You get excited when people in front of you move, just like when you receive that “Host Family” email. You see the ride running, and the riders being so happy from far away, just like you read exchange students adventures on their blogs. But most of it, you wait, and burn of impatience.

And then, comes the moment you hop on the roller coaster. The moment you are actually going, actually leaving your family, your friends, your home, your bed etc. You have that bittersweet feeling, between excitement and nervousness… But you can’t back out (and you don’t want to anyways, you’ve been waiting for this moment for 3 whole years !).

And here it goes. The plane takes off, the wagon starts moving. It goes up, up, up, just like your emotions. You’re feeling so happy, everything is perfect in your host country ! And at some point, the ride goes down… You’re scared, homesick, angry etc. But pretty quickly, it stabilizes and you get used to the new language, the new food, you start making friends. As everybody knows, roller coasters have many ups and downs, and so have exchanges.

But in the end, you realize you have to hop off the ride, and walk away from it. You don’t want to, but on the other hand, you know your family, your friends, your home, your bed, are waiting for you on the other side of the ocean. So, this bittersweet feeling comes back. Way more bitter than sweet in my case…

Because I had to leave what had become my family, my friends, my home, my bed. This all went by way too fast…

You get down from this roller coaster with the outside certainty that you will ride it again over and over and over, but the inside fear that maybe you will never get to experience such an amazing experience, that you will never be given such a huge opportunity again…

So you walk away from it, and start feeling nostalgic. Maybe, all of this was just a dream, after all ! This need to go back to this ride is here, and some of us will fulfill this need, and go back on the roller coaster to visit their families, friends, homes, beds, across the globe. Others will let this away for a little bit, and go on other adventures in the amusement park.


This was my definition of being an exchange student. Our year abroad itself is the accomplishment of a lot of work and determination. It is a very enriching and learning experience. But in the end, if you look at your life like you look at an amusement park, and your exchange being that one roller coaster, you realize that many more opportunities are awaiting for you!

This guest post was written by Agathe, a 17 year old French Rotary Exchange Student to the USA (2014-2015)