According to a 2012 Gallup World Poll, about 13% of the world’s adults – hundreds of millions of people – say they would like to leave their country permanently. At Hopkins, many of our students, as well as staff and faculty, are part of the globe-trotting movement. For instance, according to the Johns Hopkins University Fact Book:

  • More than 3,000 international graduate and undergraduate students from 121 different countries study at Johns Hopkins. (International students -check out the great support services JHU offers!)
  • Over 10,000 alumni currently live in 162 countries.
  • Each year, more than 400 undergraduate students study abroad in nearly 30 countries.

What pulls us to a new place and what keeps us there? Some instantly fall in love with the land, culture, or a career. Others, however, might feel disconnected from their new home, longing for their previous life instead. Watch out! The tendency to romanticize the unattainable is certainly one way to sabotage gratitude for what’s right in front of you. Homesickness can be a powerful disincentive to acclimate, so much so that nostalgia was once considered a medical malady.

No one enjoys feeling out of place, but as humans we are superbly adaptable. And, there are plenty of good resources available to help you understand and combat homesickness. One strategy to integrate yourself into a new community is simply to keep experimenting with new activities until you’ve found the group, location, or recreation that moves you. The more time you spend seeking out things to love about a place, whether it’s a particular venue, a landscape, or even meeting one amazing person – the less time you’ll spend dwelling on what it’s missing. And yes, even “Smalltimore” offers plenty of opportunities for delight and surprise. Hope that all of those who are new to Hopkins are settling in, and finding the weird and wonderful elements that make your own community unique and worthy of loving.


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