Paperwork needed for change of visa

So you wanna study in America returns with what paperwork you need to have to you know, study here. I know that this post has been anticipated for some time so today you finally get it! YAY!!

Here is a checklist of all the paperwork you will need to do and have in order to apply and study in America. This is a general one but it helped me a lot so I hope it helps you!

*NOTE: this is under the assumption that you are doing a change of status in the US and not traveling home to do it.* 


  1. Application form for your school. Remember that you need to indicate that you are an international student and to write your permanent home address in your home country as they need this to apply for your SEVIS I-20.
  2. Official transcripts. These need to be the ORIGINAL ones so you need to ask your parents to send it to you if you do not have it. This includes your high school one as well as any other college transcripts you have. In some colleges, you will have to translate it either into English or get it evaluated so that they can see the US equivalent of it.
  3. Proof of English proficency. This is only if your home country is not exempted from it. At my college, I was exempt from giving this information as I am from South Africa
  4. Bank statement and agreement of financial support. This is for whoever is sponsoring you. Your family back home? Your host family? A boyfriend? Each college is different but generally you have to have around $25000 of cash in the bank. This is to prove that they can support you if you are not able to pay for it yourself.
  5. Passport.
  6. Copies of current I-20/visa. This is if you are still in the states.
  7. Immunization forms. This is only needed right before you start school.

Once you have submitted your application to your school, they will accept you and apply for a new SEVIS I-20 and once they have that, you will be able to carry on with the application process.

Now that you have been accepted into the college and they have obtained your new I-20. You will have to complete your first step online by filling out the form: I-539 which you will fill out online. That is all online and then you will need to print it out for your records and for the “packet” you will need to create which you will then send to USCIS and pray that your visa gets accepted.

What goes into the “packet”? 

  1. Detailed letter requesting and explaining the need for your change of status.
  2. Form G-1145: e-Notification of application. This just gives you text messages about your application.
  3. Completed original I-539 form.
  4. Most recent I-94 record.
  5. Photocopy of proof of payment of the SEVIS fee (SEVIS I-901)
  6. Copy of your checks. You have to pay for finger printing as well as this application.
  7. Detailed evidence of financial support.
  8. Photocopy of the visa page and ID page in your passport.
  9. Copy of the signed I-20 from your school.
  10. Photocopy of ALL your DS-2019’s. I had a lot as I was an aupair previously.
  11. Proof of residency abroad. 

In the letter explaining why you want to change your status, it should include the following: 

  1. Be addressed to: “dear immigration services officer.”
  2. Explain what you are applying for (i.e change from J-1 to F-1)
  3. Explain why you are applying.
  4. Include a statement that you plan on returning home when your studies are done and how you plan on using your education to help your country.
  5. List all the contents of your application.
  6. Include your contact information and an original signature.

I hope all this information helps you and makes you feel more at ease when trying to navigate your application. It feels like there is A LOT of information and paperwork. I know itt can be really overwhelming, but it is doable. I will also have a copy of my personal letter as well as information on how to complete the form if you need it. You can email me for that and I will be happy to send it to you.

If you have any other questions that I have not already answered, please DM me on Instagram and I will be happy to answer them!

Check out my first blog on changing your status here! FAQ about changing your visa is here too.

FAQ: Going from a J-1 to F-1

Since my previous blog, I have gotten frequently asked questions that I did not answer in that blog, so today I will be trying to answer them! Please remember that every college is different and every state is different. I will be doing more posts as I get more information or if the information changes. My goal is to help people who want to change their status but cannot afford a lawyer. I would also like to state that this should not be the primary reason to why you come to Aupair. I am not encouraging anyone to come here just to change their status BUT I am here to provide you with information if you so choose to.

Can I work while studying?

The only work you are legally allowed to do is on your school campus. Your F-1 visa is only to study full time and work on your school campus for 20 hours per week. You cannot legally work with your host family or any other family.

Do I need a lawyer to do the process?

No, you do not. Most schools do recommend you using a lawyer as legally they cannot help you fill in the paperwork. I am however proof that you do not need a lawyer. I did not use one and I got my visa just fine!

Do you need to take the SAT’s?

Every school is different. The school that I initially applied to wanted me to have taken my SAT’s but the college I ended up at did not. What is also important to note, is that at my college the SAT’s that I took helped me with my placement at the school. Generally, you need to take a placement test to determine where you would be placed in English and Maths but with my scores, it placed me immediately.

Do you need to get your matric certificate/ high school diploma evaluated?

This yet again depends on your college. I personally did not and I am not sure how it works but I do know that you need to pay a lot to get it done which kind of sucks in my opinion. One of my friends paid about $300 for it.

Do I go for an interview at the embassy like I did for my J-1?

No, you do not. You send in your paperwork and pray you to get someone who is nice to approve of you. I am not joking. Pray bro.

Are you allowed to study while your visa is getting approved?

This also depends on your college. I was able to but opted out to just waiting to get my paperwork. This can help you as you can get a headstart on your studying.

Can I study part-time?

No. You have to be taking a minimum of 12 credits per semester. You are only allowed to take ONE class online and the rest has to be in person. This is very important to note. You are here on an F-1 and that requires you to study FULL TIME. 

Can I travel to and from my country while I am studying?

The short answer is yes, but naturally, like everything else. It is a little more complicated. You are able to go back home to visit but then you do have to apply at the embassy for an interview to get your visa in your passport. This is quite frustrating as I have only heard of girls getting rejected. It is basically the whole process all over again. So my suggestion is to do your schooling and then go home or get your family to visit you if possible. It is not the ideal situation so you would have to weigh out the pros and cons of the entire situation, unfortunately.

Who is paying for your studies?

This is a conversation you need to have with whoever is sponsoring you. I am personally paying for my own studies as I do not want to have anything being held over my head. This obviously is very dependent on your sponsor and what you want.

How long should I apply before my visa ends?

Changing your visa can take from 2-12 months, sometimes longer to get, so you should apply for a change of status as soon as you are able to. I applied right as my second year started so I would have 12 months for my visa to be approved. I did get it in 3 months which is great but that is considered VERY quick so you have to take that into account.

Like I said in the beginning, I will be posting more of these as I get more questions as well as changing the answers if they change! If you have any further questions, please email me or send me a DM on Instagram!

Read more about how I changed my status here.

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We started a Podcast!

After a lot of questions on when I would start a podcast from so many different people, I finally caved and started one. My friend Kim actually asked me to start it with her and since everyone and their mother wanted me to do it, I said hell yes!!

The podcast is going to coincide with the blog posts that I have here but also will be a little less formal and more about stories that both Kim and I have as well as people who come on the podcast. At some point, I would also love it if we had host parents on here as it would be interesting in my opinion to see what they look for as well as what made them want an AuPair. If it’s uncomfortable to have one and what they expect from an AuPair.

With everyone listening to podcasts, it really is the perfect thing to get our voices out there. Also if you want a laugh and want to not feel alone in this world, that’ll be so useful for you as well!

I am super excited to be doing this with Kim. Her and I have been friends since 2016 when we met in New York as AuPairs. We are both living in the states now. Kim got married and lives in Philly. I will officially be here on a student visa next month, which is SUPER exciting! So why don’t you go and listen to the podcast and give us your feedback. We would appreciate it so much! If you would like to be on our podcast or have a story/ question that you would like to ask us (we don’t have to share your name) please contact us via email or Instagram and we will get back to you!

You can check out the podcast here. It will be on Apple podcast soon!

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Finding the Right Family for You

Finding the right family for you and what you would like to experience when you Aupair is so, so important. If you speak to any Aupair that had a bad experience, most of the time you will see that it was not the kids that were the problem but the family or living situation. For some Aupair’s, having every weekend off is important to them or using the car; having their own space and bathroom. You get the point.

What is important is that you need to know what you want but also need to be willing to compromise on it. Do you research on the area before you say yes. If you are a party girl and the family live in the middle of nowhere where you can’t party or dance, that may be a deal-breaker for you. At the end of the day, know what you want and what you are able to compromise on.

Here are some questions that you should consider asking the family to make sure that this will be a good match for you and them.


  1. What do mom and dad do for a living?
  2. Where do you work and what are your work hours?
  3. Would you say that you are a close family?
  4. What do you  like to do together as a family?
  5. How do you spend your weekends/off time?
  6. What are your interests & hobbies?
  7. Do you like to travel?
  8. Do you want me to travel with your family?
  9. What is the families like in your town?
  10. How would you describe your surrounding environment in your home?
  11. Do you want your au pair to be included in family events for example holidays?
  12. What’s your daily schedule like?
  13. am I required to pay for my own gas when I am not using the car for the kids?


  1. Do I need to cook for the kids/family?
  2. What are your expectations during mealtime?
  3. Will I have a curfew?
  4. Can I spend free time away from your home?
  5. Will I have access to the internet in the house and in my room?
  6. What are the rules for using the internet?
  7. How is my room furnished?
  8. Do I need to bring my own bedding and/or towels?
  9. What transportation will I be using?
  10. Will I be using public transportation?
  11. How will I take the kids to school/daycare etc?
  12. How far away from your house is the grocery store/ school/ bus stations/ train stations?
  13. What activities are available in your area?
  14. Are there parks/ playgrounds etc. in your area?
  15. What types of household chores does everyone do?

I hope this list of questions help you find a family that is perfect for you. If you have any other questions, remember that you are able to contact me at any time on all my social media!

READ MORE: Host Family Interview: Work Edition 

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So you wanna study in America? 

So you wanna study in America? 

The first thing you have to think about is can I afford it? Most schools across America average $10k or more for international students a year. This is not including books; gas; food etc. 

As an international student, you cannot work legally anywhere except at your school, but most schools will favor second-year students before the first years. 

The next thing you have to think about is a sponsor. Who is going to sponsor you and can they afford to. A lot of schools have a sponsored requirement. Generally, a sponsor has to have between $20-40k in the bank. It has to be “cash on hand” where they can draw it out if needed so like a savings account is good. 

You can also actually have more than 1 sponsor. A sponsor is needed for the actual schooling and then living aspect.

You want your host family to sponsor you. Okay, you need to sit down and have a conversation with them. Are they willing to sponsor you? Will they continue to pay you as normal or pay you more? Will they pay for your college or is that on you? What are the options? 

Personally, my host family will continue paying me the same amount and I have to pay for everything myself. That’s just a personal decision. I will help out as much as I can with a full workload. 

I’m still allowed to stay with them and do what I’m doing now. 

Once you have a sponsor, you need to apply for school. I will always recommend applying to a community college as they’re cheaper and more accessible. 

You need to apply as an international student and the school generally has a specific person who liaises with international students. They will mostly always advise you to get a lawyer to do this process but that’s up to you. 

Once you have been accepted, you need to think about the different options. Will you go home and apply for everything and then come back? Will you do a change of status and just stay in the country? If you go home and come back, you will have a visa in your passport and will be able to visit home more often. The downside of this is that you may get denied a visa. This is the downside to both options but apparently more people get denied in their home country. 

If you stay in-country and have a change of status, once you have submitted your documents, you CANNOT leave the country for ANY REASON! They will trash your visa application. If your visa gets approved you can’t go home. Most people who have had a change of status and then gone home, have been denied to come back to the states. You have to apply again for your visa while you’re visiting because you technically do not have a visa in your passport, just a piece of paper. 

If you change your status in the USA, please remember that you have to have 6-12 months left on your visa so that there’s enough time for the processing and government to make a decision. If you don’t have enough time on your visa, they can actually deny your change of status. 

Once you have decided that, you have to wait for the school to get your papers from the government, and then you can apply for your change of status if you’re in-country. This is what I’ve done so I can only talk about this.

Once the school got the relevant paperwork, you’re able to apply for your change of status. 

You have an online application that you have to submit. This is a very LONG application and it has to be perfect. 

Once you have that done, submit it, print it and pay the fee ($350 from what I remember) 

You then have to pay another fee (also $350 I think) and have that. It’s the sevis fee. 

You then have more paperwork you have to submit in an envelope to whatever address they give you, mine was Texas but other people submitted in other places. This includes an essay as to why you want to study in the USA and what you will be doing with your degree in SA. 

Once that is done, you mail it and wait. I got a letter saying I had to go for biometrics so that’s what I did. Then it’s the waiting game. 

If you change your status you need 6-12 months on your current visa as this is enough time to get the change of status. Sometimes they can deny you based on how much time you have left on your visa. So watch for that

I will do a follow up post on the paperwork needed and what I submitted, so look out for that.



Dealing with conflict with your host family


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Aupair Conversations With Charlie

Aupair Conversations!! Today we have my best friend Charlie talking about her second Aupair experience. Charlie and I first met in 2015/2016 via a Facebook group (yes, they do work 😉 ) and have been friends ever since. Her love for Harry Potter and weird stuff has to lead me to keep her around! 😉

Tell us a little about the reason why you decided to Aupair

I absolutely love working with kids. I love spending time with them and caring for them. Getting to experience a year or two in another country is incredible. You learn and grow so much. You meet new people and learn about different cultures too.

What agency did you go through?

Au Pair in America

How did the process go for you? Was it easy and did you enjoy your process?

The process was a bit difficult. I did not have a lot of time to get my documentation in order and there was a lot of pressure since the family wanted me at a specific time but I managed to do it and it was so worth it!

How long did it take to get a family?

It took about a month.

What did you learn at orientation? (A lot of people think it is not worth it)

Honestly, I don’t think it is worth it either if you have done the program before. If not, you definitely learn a lot. They teach you child safety, give you tips on how to work with the kids and host parents. They also talk about traveling and saving money.

What do you regret packing and what do you wish you packed?

I regret packing for all seasons. You should only pack for the season you are arriving in!
I wish I packed more snacks from home!

Do you think that getting $195,75 is enough money per week?

Considering that we don’t have to pay for food or rent, yes it is enough if you manage it wisely.

When did you Aupair? And where?

Highland Falls, NY
North Salem

What has been the highlight of being an Aupair?

Being placed with the most incredible host family ever. They treat me like family and I have never been happier.

What was one negative thing about being an Aupair?

My schedule is a bit weird at times but we work around it.

Do you recommend being an Aupair?


Can you give a small summary of your week? When you worked etc

My schedule is usually Tuesday through Saturday but it all depends on the parent’s work schedule when they travel.

Final thoughts on AuPairing in America

If you liked Charlie’s story and want to talk about your experience, please let me know! I would love to talk to you about it!
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Financial Obligations Your Host Family Have


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Financial Obligations Your Host Family Have

Money is such a hot topic when it comes to being an aupair. Recently the topic came up on what your host family is supposed to provide you while you are their Aupair and staying with them. Here is a list of things that they are responsible for: 

Your stipend every week

Whether you are on the Educare; regular Au Pair or Au Pair extraordinaire, it varies but probably around $195,75 a week. 

Food for you

There always has to be food for you so you can eat it at home. If you choose to eat out with them, they generally pay for you unless it is discussed beforehand or if you eat out with friends or something, you are liable for that. 

$500 or $1000 for education

This includes transportation getting there. If you have to take a bus or something to your class, they have to pay for that. However, most times you have to take classes that are more than $500 or $1000 (Educare) so paying for your own transport is normal. 

Expenses while you are working with the kids.

This includes gas, food for the kids and you as well as activities like if you take them to a zoo or amusement park, your ticket has to be paid too. 

Things your family is NOT responsible for:

1. The family is NOT responsible for buying toiletries like shampoo; conditioner; soap etc 

2. The family is NOT responsible for getting you a cellphone or phone plan. Most often they do give you a phone and a plan BUT they don’t actually have to. This is something that Au Pairs tend to forget. Another thing that they can do is give you money towards the plan or give them money towards the plan for your phone. Most Au Pairs have their own phone from their home country so your host family can sometimes just give you a sim card to put into your phone. 

3. The family also does NOT have to give you a car to drive in your free time. If they let you use a car during your free time, you should be happy because they don’t actually need to which is another thing that Au Pairs forget. Having a car is a HUGE responsibility and costs a lot of money so they may not want to take that responsibility for you and that’s okay too. 

At the end of the day, the best thing for you to do is to ask your host family what they will be covering in your year. Will you have a car? Cellphone? What food do they eat?

I personally do not eat at home a lot because they don’t always have food I can eat due to my allergies but my host mom does try and get me food that I can eat for me which is very kind. In my first year, I paid for my own phone plan and bought my own phone. Now, this time around they gave me a sim card. I am on their phone plan now, using my own phone. I also pay for my own gas wherever I go because I have a car that is only for me so I am responsible for gas. 

Remember to ask these important questions as your interview. This could be the deciding factor for you when it comes to choosing a family. 

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Dealing With Conflict With Your Host Family

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Au Pair Conversations with Ida

This is a post from one of the followers on our Instagram page. Ida is an Au Pair for a special needs child much like me. She wrote about her experience and everything else.

Ida choosing a special needs kid to au pair with

I remember the day so vividly. I just felt that this would be the day where the first family would contact me, and I was right. Oh my gosh how was my heart pounding! When I scrolled through the pictures and it felt so right.

I remember seeing the first pictures of the little boy in some kind of machine which helps him standing and the next one in a wheelchair. I was thinking about whether I ticked the little box where the organization asks you about being willing to take care of special needs kids or not.

A few days later I talked to the dad via skype. After talking about general stuff, I asked him about how limited the boy was in his movement and just how he is general. He just told me like it’s the most natural thing which gave me so much confidence to take on this adventure and so I did.

Leaving Austria to Au Pair

Oh gosh, thinking about this now makes me realize how not ready I was! I barely knew anything about the family but here I was leaving Austria for the year which ended up lasting 19 months. I wouldn’t trade it in for anything in the world, cause throughout all the ups and downs that were included in this time I learned so much about kids and foreign cultures and myself and life and made friendships which were closer than I could have ever imagined.

Anyways, one very big part of my au pair time, except the other kids I took care of and the amazing family I extended with and all the adventures and whatsoever was little J. He had CP and therefore couldn’t talk, walk, crawl, use the toilet or feel himself. J was five years old by the time I arrived, but he was basically like a tall baby considering his abilities.

Arriving and working with J

The first few weeks I was so confused by the squeaks he made I came running anytime I heard something haha! I figured out his preferences and his dislikes as fast as with any other kid I ever took care of.

After a few days, I already liked hanging out with him so much. He was just such a happy kid and his beautiful giggle seriously could end wars! He loved everything including chocolate, in the pool, he just smiled for hours nonstop cause he liked it so much, in therapies he gave his all so he crashed on the car ride back home, and he thought my silly voice was hilarious even after the 100th time.

The only thing that annoyed me was the pity looks people gave me, whether it was some other au pairs we met in the park or strangers in the mall. I couldn’t help it, but it bothered me. What’s the difference between changing a 5-year old’s diaper or a baby’s? I actually think it smells less bad.

I would have done anything to give him the ability to walk and express himself with words. Life doesn’t always work that way though, and he was given the best possibilities possible. He had the most caring family around him, awesome au pairs also before and after me and therapies and medical treatment. Not to mention the best school I think I have ever seen, and he melted his teachers’ heart with his goofy cricket smile. He was having the most out of life.

Another thing I have to mention is that the whole entire community involving special needs kids is amazing. People are more grounded I guess and start valuing things others might not even realize. In case anyone thinks it’s filled with a bunch of pity talks and feeling sorry. You’re so wrong. Uplifting.

special thanks giving

Ida’s Experience overall.

I really loved the whole experience. It didn’t even feel so different from the other kids I took care of or my extension family. I loved it and I am so proud of myself for having the courage that I took the step. That is seriously the hardest part, simply cause you to have no idea what you’re getting yourself into. I loved it. I love J with every bit of my heart. He was my ray of sunshine on the days I needed it. If I could have, I would have brought him home with me.

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Being Homesick

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Aupair Conversation with Courtney | Dutch Aupair

Today we are back hearing about different people and their experiences as an Au Pair. Today we have Courtney who was an Au Pair in Holland near where I lived.

Tell us a little about the reason why you decided to AuPair

I decided to become an Au pair firstly because I love working with children and secondly because it’s the perfect way to travel and experience living in a different country.

What agency did you go through?

Au Pair Travel

How did the process go for you? Was it easy and did you enjoy your process?

The process was very simple and I had no serious difficulties. The only difficulty I came across is the time it took to wait for certain documents. Other than that, it all went well.

How long did it take to get a family?

It took me about 3 weeks to get a match with my family.

What do you regret packing and what do you wish you packed?

I regret nothing that I packed. I packed very little. I do wish I had packed more winter clothing items, but thankfully it is easy to get some here.

Do you think that getting paid what you do is enough per month?

I honestly don’t think that we get paid enough every month. Life can be expensive here, but there is always a way to make things work and there is nothing wrong learning to travel on a low budget.

When did you Aupair? And where?

I am currently Au pairing in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

What has been the highlight of being an AuPair?

I have so many highlights of my time being an Au pair so far, but I would say being able to travel and see so many different European countries is my best highlight!

What was one negative thing about being an Aupair?

I have had some difficult moments while being an Au pair so far, but nothing so bad to pinpoint something negative. My experience has been mostly positive.

Do you recommend being an Au pair?

Yes, definitely. It is an experience that teaches you so much, you have the opportunity to travel and if you’re lucky enough as I am, you get a host family that feels like your own family.

Final thoughts on AuPairing in The Netherlands

Deciding to come Au pair in the Netherlands is one of the best decisions that I’ve made. It has opened up my mind to a different way of living and I have had the opportunity to experience things that I would never have thought I would have ever been able to. Living away from home for so long is challenging, as well as adapting to living with another family. As long as you have a positive attitude, an open mind and you are willing to adapt to different ways, you’ll be good to go! Your friends become your family too. I have met so many different people and have made friends for life. I would highly recommend Au Pairing In the Netherlands and I would come here again if I had the opportunity to!


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AU Pair Conversations With Courtney 2019 | Weirdlifeofanaupair

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Being Homesick! What To Do If You Feel Homesick

Being homesick is a very normal thing that you will experience at least once in your Au Pair year. Whether it is in the beginning, after all the emotions and excitement has died down or whether it is 3 months; 6 months in or even when you’re almost home and the anticipation to go home is too much and you It is a very normal thing that happens to everyone. You may seem like you can’t bear with it and all you want to do is go home and be with your family. That is understandable but before you pack up your life, try some of these things. They might help you!

1. Get Out Of The House

Seriously though, get out of the house. Go take a walk in the park; sit and read a book somewhere. Sit at a coffee shop. Just get out of the house. One of the best things I did was go to the gym. Whether it was freezing outside or blazing hot, I went to the gym and worked out. It releases endorphins that boost your mood and it will make you feel better about yourself. Sometimes even walking around the mall can help you. I know we are all trying to save money but staying home when you feel homesick is not good for you. It makes you feel more depressed and sad.

2. Talk To Your Host Family And Counselor About It

Your host family will be understanding when it comes to you not feeling so great and missing home. They may give you some time off to feel better or help you with the kids a bit to relieve you of all the pressure. I know that doesn’t always happen but it’s important to let them know. Your LCC definitely knows how it feels as they have dealt with a lot of Au Pairs who have been through this. They can give you some advice or resources that will help you.


3. Limit Your Time Talking To Your Family And Friends Back Home

This is a tough one and I know that the whole reason why you are homesick is that you miss them so much! It’s important to go out and enjoy yourself and yes, update your family but not constantly. If you are constantly talking to them and watching their Instagram stories and posts, you will regret being in America and missing out on everything that is happening there. It will be for a limited time BUT you will be back with them and it will be okay to miss some things. 

4. Stay Off Social Media

Back to the previous point. Staying off social media will be better for you. At least for a while. Seeing all your friends and family having fun and enjoying life is hard when you are so far away so it’s important to limit your time on Instagram and Facebook, at least for now while you’re homesick. Being on social media will just make you sadder and wish you were there. 

5. The last thing

I would suggest is to get some snacks or food from your home country. You are in America, the chances of finding a restaurant or food from your home country are really high. Look up places local to you. You may have to order something off Amazon or another store that is dedicated to selling things from your country. You could also get your family to send you something. Having this will remind you of home and should make you feel better. It has always worked for me! 

Lastly, I would just say that being homesick is temporary and you will eventually feel better and enjoy life again. Remember it will just be for a limited time and you will be okay! 


If you have any more suggestions, please let us know down below and if you are currently homesick, let us know so we can support you! 


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Reasons To Say “Special-Needs People Or Special-Giving People 2019-2020”

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