At Oxford English Academy we strongly believe in the advantages of having our students live with local families. Not only does the student have the opportunity to speak English from the moment they open their eyes until they retire to bed again at night, they also get to experience first hand the culture and traditions of the average South African family.

While this is an exhilarating experience and the benefits are endless it may at times feel a little overwhelming. Uprooting yourself from the security of your home and embarking on such an adventure can sometimes leave a person feeling a little homesick. So what should you do on those days when all you long for is the familiarity of home? Here are a few things I found helped me when I lived far away in a foreign country and felt a little down.

These days we hardly print photographs as we always have them available on our phones. However I felt that having a printed, even framed picture of my friends and family back home gracing a wall in my room always helped. After a long day I would come home and I could see the faces most important to me smiling at me as I enter the room.

As important as it is to immerse yourself as much as possible in your temporary new English family, it is also important to keep contact with everyone back home. I had a weekly Skype date with my mother. I found when I was not feeling myself, knowing that I had a set day to look forward to helped a lot!

Nothing lifts your spirits higher than a package from home full of goodies not available here! Be it your favourite body lotion or sweet treat, the familiar smell or taste will remind you of all that is good in the world.

Talk, talk, talk… tell your new family all about your life back home. Tell them about your family, friends, pets and hobbies. Talking about the people and things you miss most will make you feel closer to them. And you might not even realise it but you are practising your English while doing so!

If all else fails, go out. Get yourself up and out and go explore. You are in a new city, new country and new culture. Cape Town has so much to offer that you will soon be so busy you might even forget all your sadness and have a great time. Your tears might even be savoured for when you leave your new family and friends behind to go home!

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