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Five Ways to Transform Loneliness into Enjoyable Solitude While Abroad

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  1. Keep a Gratitude Journal 

Studies show that gratitude has a strong positive impact on our psychological well-being and happiness, as gratitude helps us experience more positive emotions, savor good experiences, maintain resilience during difficult seasons, and build strong relationships. Regardless of how I felt, I wrote down 5 things every night that I was grateful for that day. They don’t have to be big or monumental. Most of the time, mine weren’t. It could be the sun shining down on your face or a good cup of coffee you got that morning or a nice compliment you received from someone in your class. Keeping a gratitude journal forced me to regularly reflect on my day and recognize the positive. It also helped me appreciate little things that I might have taken for granted before coming abroad. Although this practice might seem tedious or insignificant at times, it really did wonders for my happiness and wellbeing.  

2.  Listen to your favorite podcast or album  

Music has the amazing ability to help lift our moods and increase our motivation to take on our commitments and priorities. My favorite albums that I listened to nonstop while I was abroad were “Midnights” by Taylor Swift and “Sonder” by Dermot Kennedy. In the morning, I would play them out loud as I was getting ready. I would listen to them on my walk to class and while I was wandering around unfamiliar areas in Edinburgh. I would even listen to them as I was making dinner in my flat. It made these times where I was by myself so much more enjoyable and peaceful. It doesn’t have to be these albums (even though I highly recommend them). Whatever album or podcast it is, I encourage you to incorporate it into your day as you are doing your daily activities or exploring your new city.  

3. Switch up your study spots  

To add some excitement to my routine, I would go on Tik Tok or Google and look up the best study spots or coffee shops in Edinburgh. Once a week, I would pick one from the list and bring some of my work with me. I loved trying new places and doing so helped me explore parts of Edinburgh that I might not have otherwise. Switching up my study locations and doing work outside of the library (which can be depressing) helped me feel more motivated and inspired to do my work, even when I was by myself. I encourage you to look up the best coffee shops or cafes in your city and try them out!  

4. Engage with your loved ones back home  

Whenever you are feeling lonely, it can be tempting to isolate yourself even more. However, it is vital that you initiate conversations and interactions with the people in your life back home, especially in the moments when you are feeling lonely. Staying connected to your family and your friends will help soothe these feelings of loneliness, and it will give you the incredible chance to help them “see” what your life is like in your new city. I would send mini “vlogs” to my friends back home over Snapchat of my walk to class, my morning routine, or any other moments throughout my day in Edinburgh. I would also be honest with trusted friends and family back home about any loneliness that I was experiencing, which allowed them to encourage me in ways that I really needed.

5. Romanticize the heck out of your life 

The concept of “romanticizing your life” is a popular and more recent trend about celebrating yourself (or seeing yourself as the main character) and making even the most mundane and ordinary parts of your day feel special and extraordinary. It requires us to appreciate what is right in front of us and live with intentionality, regardless of how mundane our daily routines might be. It also reminds us to look for moments of beauty in the ordinary and to appreciate minimalism rather than relying on extravagance or perfection to enjoy our lives. Make the time to journal about the things you are grateful for. Put on an outfit that makes you feel confident with clothes you already have. Put on a face mask and make yourself a cup of tea as you are finishing up your night routine. Buy yourself flowers at the grocery store and put them in your room. Savor the cup of coffee you get at a coffee shop and allow yourself to enjoy everything about it rather than focusing on multitasking or other distractions.  

Appreciate everything about the present moment instead of only dreaming or longing for things to be different about your abroad experience in the future. Doing this will help you to enjoy your own company, and it will completely change your outlook on your experience during your time abroad.   

Grace Powell is astudent at Wake Forest University and studied abroad with IFSA at the University of Edinburgh in Fall 2022. She is an International Correspondent for IFSA through the Work-To-Study Program.