Alone in a foreign country
I'm a university student spending a year studying abroad in Italy, while my family, friends, and boyfriend are all still in the UK. I've only been here for about a month so far, but I think I've cried more here than I ever have done before. Everyone back at home has been really supportive, and have even said to me that my degree isn't important if it means I'm just sad all the time. I want to be able to last the year, and I know in a few years time if I came home early I would regret it. But I just hate this constantly feeling sad. Sometimes I'm fine for a few days, and then all of a sudden I'm back to crying and not wanting to do anything again. I've never suffered from any mental disorders, but I think this is the closest I've ever come to depression. When I feel sad all I want to do is lay in bed, watch TV, cry, and call home. I also seem to stop eating when I'm sad, so my food routine sometimes goes a bit out of whack as well.
There are lots of student events going on around me most of the time, so there's nearly always something to do. Before I came here I used to love going out for a few drinks with my friends, but not anymore. I've made some friends here, but I feel like it's only because I'm obbligated to befriend them. It doesn't help that I've only met about 3 people who speak fluent English, so the language barrier just makes the feelings of isolation even worse.
I know this problem is nothing compared to what a lot of other people are going through, but for me this is one of the worst things I've ever had to deal with. It's even resulted in my family crying down the phone to me too, because they've been triggered by MY crying. I don't know what to do; I just want to be at home, or to be here but feel as good as I do when I'm at home with family and friends.
I don't really know what kind of 'advice' I'm asking for. It's just nice to type all this down freely.
Why did you leave the UK to go study abroad in Italy in the first place? When I went off to college, it was only about 100 miles from my house. I could come home on weekends, and I did. The dorms were flat empty on the weekends, on the times I stayed on campus rather than go home.
I imagine the weekends are the worst.
I'm studying Italian, so it's a requirement of my degree to spend a year abroad in Italy. I love being at my university in England as I live with my friends, so I never have much desire to visit home then; perhaps because I know that I CAN visit whenever I want to, whereas here I need to book it at least a week in advance to keep flight costs down.
That supplies the answer to why you "have" to stay in Italy for a year.
If the torture of that is so much, I can't say which is more important, your emotional condition or your degree.
Are weekends worst as to the situation? What would be the penalty if you left and went back home?
The best description of an empty dorm scene that I've seen was in "Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger who portrayed Holden Caufield talking to a fellow student at Pency Prep as the school let out for the Christmas holidays, and he and this fellow student were talking in an empty dorm, and it could bring feelings of doom in me as it reminded me of those weekends when there was no one else in the dorm, and you had to fill every second of that time.
My now deceased wife told me of a fellow student at the all-female college where she went, who came to the college from about 500 miles away, on advice of a high school teacher who had gone to that school, and this freshman hated it. It was a small college in a small town, and you can imagine what effect it had on her.
Most of the students were probably within 125 miles of the school. She quit after 1 or two semesters.
Sorry to hear you are having such trouble adjusting to studying abroad.
It really is a huge change, being far away from home and all.
Are there any student services from which you could seek help? Is there a council for students who study abroad? Maybe look into the services offered by the school - maybe they have ways to help ease the transition. Is there a way you can find other students studying abroad, students with whom you may be better able to connect? To share what you're going through? If you can find even one person to confide in, to share your troubles, it will ease the burden for you (and most likely for them as well). Is there a teacher with whom you've developed some rapport, that you could ask for advice, that could be more like a mentor rather than just a teacher?
Do you have Skype? Perhaps if you can see your family (as opposed to just hearing their voice over the phone) it would help. I used to live far from my boyfriend, and we would Skype every night and study together. We wouldn't talk - we'd have our mics on mute - but we would position our computers so that we could see each other. And to be honest, just being able to look up at the screen and see him... It was so helpful to me. I felt more of his presence this way. Do you think you might be able to do something similar? Maybe it would help!
In the end, only you can judge whether you feel you are able to stay and complete the year, or if you feel you aren't comfortable enough to do it and decide to go back home. If you're unsure which to pursue, perhaps make a list of PROS vs CONS of each decision (stay VS leave). See which decision has more pros that outweigh the cons.
Best of luck to you. I hope it works out. Just make sure, or try to make sure, that whichever path you take, you take for yourself. Don't decide to stay or leave to please anyone other than yourself. You are the one who has to deal with the consequences of your actions, and therefore you are the only one who has a right to judge the reasons for why you decide to stay or leave. Do what you think is best for yourself.