Streets of Krakow in an article about Erasmus students

How To Cope With Homesickness as an Erasmus Student Abroad in the Winter

Going abroad as part of a student exchange program? Here are some ways to keep yourself from missing home too much.
March 14, 2020
8 mins read

Studying abroad has the potential to be one of the most fulfilling and exhilarating experiences of your life, or, it can quickly turn into a succession of isolating months where you find yourself counting down the days until you can return home. There is often a thin line between the two, and in order to make sure yours is a fruitful experience, planning is key. There are the basics — opening an overseas bank account, purchasing a local SIM card, organizing a choice of entertainment as well as remembering to make sure your health insurance is in order — but most importantly, you will need to find the right group of friends.

What Do I Need To Survive?

You can consider your group of friends on an Erasmus, or student exchange program, as your wolf pack. An important part of the student experience abroad is meeting new people from diverse backgrounds and forming lifelong friendships. Your friends are your support group, and this has never been truer than when you are away from home. There will come a point when everyone struggles, whether you are feeling homesick or missing your mother’s cooking, and of course, the trials and tribulations of living on a shoestring budget can take their toll. It is during these moments when you will need your friends more than ever. Whether it is a conversation to cheer you up, a much needed hug, a loan of five dollars or a recommendation for the cheapest supermarket to get in some essentials for the weekend, you need your wolf pack to have your back.

What Will Be the Hardest Time of an Erasmus?

Often, the hardest time for an Erasmus is the dreaded winter period. The days are getting shorter, temperatures are dropping and the idea of yet another microwavable dinner coupled with a pre-drinking session is beginning to lose its appeal. There are times when you will enter survival mode and this is when you learn who your true friends are. A group of Erasmus friends is often a unique concoction of personalities and nationalities, and when you work together, you can achieve anything you set your minds to. One person will know where all the best discounts are, another will know how to feed the entire group with just a loaf of bread and a jar of pickles, and another will know how to make a small bottle of shampoo last for an unholy amount of time.

You will need to ensure that you have suitable entertainment for when you are alone or in a group. So let’s take a look at two possible solutions:

Put Your Wolf Pack to the Test

So what better way to put your group dynamic to the test than spending a night or two a week in the comfort of your student digs learning how to work as a team. And the perfect game to put your Erasmus survival skills to the test, Don’t Starve Together

Team Assemble

Don’t Starve Together is one of the most unique multiplayer survival casino games on the market today. Before focusing on the gameplay, a special word must be reserved for the overall design of the game. The childlike graphics and dark color palette combined with the quirky instrumental soundtrack combine perfectly to create a surreal, out-of-this-world atmosphere with a dark undertone. The characters look as if they have been hand-drawn, and would not look out of place if they were found scrawled on the wall of a prison cell. The idiosyncratic soundtrack follows the tempo of the game, creating a sense of urgency when you are most at risk before easing off to accent your relief once the danger has been averted. 

Less Stress, More Success

One of the most unique aspects of this game is the continuous pressure you find yourself under, which is exemplified by the constant need to monitor your health, hunger and sanity — something every Erasmus student will be used to. This, along with the fact you possess limited inventory space and need to make sure you have enough food items on your person at all times in order to avoid starving means there is never an opportunity to relax and enjoy the great outdoors. Much like being on an Erasmus, you will need to work as a team in order to survive the unforgiving wilderness. With up to four players allowed, you must learn to work together to hunt, gather and construct a camp each night, all in the name of survival. In order to do this successfully, you will need to assign roles. One of you will need to craft survival supplies while others collect firewood and/or gather food.

The constant threat of darkness brings with it the risk of losing your sanity and so you are best advised not to venture too far away from your teammates.

There Is No I in Team … or Is There?

The game, just like life abroad, is unpredictable and the possibility of being betrayed by a member of your group is never too far away. This adds an interesting dynamic to the game, supporting both co-operative and competitive play. So even if you have verbally agreed to see how long you can survive as a team, be aware that this can just as quickly descend into a last man standing fight to the death. Perhaps the strongest element of the game is the emergent gameplay. This, along with the possibility to download client and server modes, making the gameplay easier or just different, as well as the ability to create new characters gives the game what feels like a lifetime of re-playability.

Don’t Starve Together is the perfect game to put the strength of your friendship to the test. If you can survive together in the wilderness without succumbing to hunger or insanity, you can surely get through the trials and tribulations that come with spending a year away from home in a foreign land — just remember, choose your friends wisely.

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