When I got accepted into the Atlas corps fellowship, I started dreading the notion of staying away from friends and family for a year, but it all turned out well. Here are a few tips:
Whether you are already living in a house, with a host family or by yourself: Get dressed and get out of your room. Explore the US city you now live in. Take in the smells and watch the people. How are they different from your home country? Take your iPod with you and listen to your favorite music and try to take in as many impressions as you can.
Try to keep busy and get all the things done, that need to be taken care of, buying furniture, grocery, learning how to cook by yourself etc find out where to buy books and what the fastest way to the library is. As in most cases when you are sad, try to keep busy and try not to think about home and how much you miss your loved ones. Put the thoughts of being homesick out of your head and once you get through the first couple of days, it won’t be as hard.
Rather than calling, you should consider writing your family or friends. Tell them about what you have seen during your first trip around your new premises, the people, the food, everything. The reason why I recommend writing over a phone call, is because a phone call lets you be closer to your loved ones back home and especially in the beginning, this will make it harder, not easier.
Also think about writing you very personal feelings in a journal. When you call your parents and can’t barely speak because you are crying so much, you will only worry them and while you feel better every day, they are still thinking it was the biggest mistake to let you go abroad.
Yes, I know, right now, you probably don’t feel like a party-animal, rock star or dancing queen. Try to connect with some other Newbies at your office and explore and have a good time. Force yourself to go out and experience the culture and the country. That is the reason why you came here in the first place, right? And I will promise you one thing: You will regret it for the rest of your life if you don’t make the most of your adventure abroad.
The more you get out there and get familiar with your new surroundings, the faster you will feel at home and comfortable. Of course, you can do that yourself, but even better, if you can connect with other people and explore together.
However, it is important that you connect NOT ONLY with people from your fellowship or class. Especially in the beginning this is very hard, I understand this, but once you have your group of friends and they are all from your home country, it will be very hard to find local friends. You are addicted to coffee? Try to find a nice little coffee shop that lets you indulge your need for it and utilize your language skills to order your coffee.
Have fun during the fellowship, as with all things in life it will also come to an end. Eventually!