In this week’s 6 Minute English – Homesickness:
More and more of us are choosing to study or work away from our hometown, which can lead to feelings of homesickness. But what can you do if you’re feeling homesick?
Jennifer and Finn discuss some things that you can do to relieve the feelings of homesickness and to keep in touch with your family and friends back home.
This week’s question:
What percentage of students feel homesickness during their first few months away from home?
Listen to the programme to find out the answer.
Jennifer: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I’m Jennifer and I’m joined by Finn.
Finn: Hello Jen. In this programme, we’re going to talk about homesickness. That’s the feeling that you get when you’re away from home and miss it – feel sad because you would like to be there. Do you ever get homesick, Jen?
Jennifer: Oh yes. I live in London now, but I was born in the north-east of England, which is a three-hour train journey away. Sometimes I wish I could go back home and see my family. How about you?
Finn: I’ve felt homesick when I’ve spent time in other countries. It’s very common and a lot of people suffer from it.
Jennifer: We’ll talk soon about some tips that you can use to combat, or overcome, homesickness, but first, a quiz question.
Finn: Ok, I’m ready.
Jennifer: What percentage of students experience homesickness in their early days at university?
Finn: I’m going to say b) 60%
Jennifer: We’ll find out if you’re right at the end of the programme. So, if you are homesick, how does it feel?
Finn: Well, I think you can often feel very lonely, especially if you’ve moved to a foreign country where the language is different to yours. You can feel quite isolated – feeling that you’re on your own with no one to help.
Jennifer: That’s true. It’s often very difficult when you don’t know many people. It’s stressful. It can be hard to make friends, and you will often think about your friends and family back at home.
Finn: You could say that you pine for your home. That means that you really want to go back and see some familiar faces, or people you know.
Jennifer: I miss my friends and family lots. But when I’m feeling homesick, I also miss places, sounds and smells!
Finn: You might see a picture of your hometown, which can make you feel a bit sad, because you’re not there.
Jennifer: Food is something else that I long for – I want it very much – when I’m away from home. There are lots of regional foods which you can’t get in London, but the thing I miss the most is my mum’s home cooking. If I smell something that reminds me of home, I feel extremely homesick!
Finn: You’re starting to make me feel homesick now! Nowadays lots of people live, work or study away from home. People travel all over the world, and homesickness is a growing problem.
Jennifer: Lots of people will experience mild homesickness – so they feel a little sad, but they can deal with it. Other people have more extreme homesickness.
Finn: They might experience panic attacks or nightmares…
Jennifer: … and some people withdraw from society altogether. That means they don’t go out or interact with anyone.
Finn: Some people think that if you feel that homesick, you should just go home! But often it’s not as easy as that, especially if you are studying or working somewhere.
Jennifer: There are ways to make it better, though. Modern technology has helped a lot of people to stay in touch with their families by using video-calling software, such as Skype or FaceTime.
Finn: That’s a good idea, because actually seeing someone talk to you is much better than just hearing them on the phone. Social media also helps people to communicate with the people they left behind.
Jennifer: Another good idea is to meet up with expat communities. That way, you can make new friends who speak your language – that can take the pressure off a little bit.
Finn: It can… But it’s also good to mix with locals in a new town or city. In my opinion, that’s the best way to stop feeling so isolated when you’re in a different place.
Jennifer: If you’re really struggling or having a hard time, you could try talking to a doctor or professional to get some advice, or even a good friend. Sometimes, even acknowledging, or realising, that you’re homesick can be the first step to feeling better.
Finn: Well, I hope that our listeners aren’t suffering from homesickness – but we need to find out the answer to the quiz question that Jennifer set earlier.
Jennifer: I asked what percentage of students typically suffer from homesickness when they start university. Was it:
Finn: And I said b) 60%
Jennifer: And you were wrong! Seventy per cent of all students feel homesick when they begin university.
Finn: So it’s very common and completely normal to feel a little bit sad when you are in a new situation!
Jennifer: Now, Finn, we’re almost out of time, so could you remind us of the words we’ve heard today?
Finn: They were:
to pine for something
to withdraw from something
to stay in touch
Jennifer: Join us again for another edition of 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. Bye for now!
Vocabulary and definitions
homesickness: the feeling of missing home
lonely: feeling that you are alone
isolated: cut off
stressful: causing worry, upset or anger
to pine for something: to miss something very much
familiar faces: people that you know
panic attacks: feeling panicky and breathless
to withdraw from something: to step back from something
to stay in touch: to keep in contact with friends or family
ex pat communities: groups of people from the same country who live abroad
6 Minute English – Homesickness Transcript Video
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