Homesickness Abroad Is Part Of The Process
With all the excitement of moving abroad and the sheer volume of organisation involved, you were never given time to prepare yourself emotionally for the journey ahead.
But honestly, nothing and no one prepares you for this part; you’ve been abroad for a while, maybe weeks or even less, and suddenly you feel overwhelmed by the weight of the distance between your normal life and your new one.
It could affect your socialising, or your daily routine, or your ability to think straight as a result of anxiety. You possibly just have trouble motivating yourself to do anything at all.
This is all completely normal. The first thing you must recognise in order to push past this stage is that you are not failing at living abroad; you have a homesickness abroad. Your new life is not terrible in comparison to life back home; you are simply homesick. There is no reason to feel disappointed in your situation and your reaction to it, because guess what? You are simply homesick, and it’s a normal part of the journey.
Luckily, many people have been through this before, and there are many things to do that could help you adjust to life in a distant place:
1. Stay connected
Assure yourself that you’ve not just dropped off the map; everyone is still thinking about you, and probably missing and envying you more than you realise. Keep a Whatsapp group for friends, and make calls home when you can. It will give you a feeling of normality and a connection with home that will shrink the distance.
However, a word of warning:
2. Don’t dwell on what is happening back home
Don’t forget about your friends and family, by all means, but don’t trudge through Facebook posts and photos either, cursing your bad luck at what you’re missing. Avoid spending time on social media in general, and keep a healthy distance from home events while paying more attention to what you have in front of you.
3. Be a Yes-Man/Woman!
It sounds so simple, but it is so effective; start saying Yes. Attend that dance event, try that wacky local dish, join in with the community’s oddities and traditions. Sometimes, your homesickness makes you want to keep saying No for no particular reason but trust me –start saying Yes and you’ll be a local in no time. You’ll find your group because people will just get used to you being around and will always think to invite you!
4. Write it down
Maybe the novelty of the foreign country has worn off, but the truth is that everything is new and unusual and maybe even funny. Make a diary or mini-record of the things that you have experienced and especially the things that surprised you or made you chuckle. You may forget how it made you feel one day.
5. Find people like you
Travellers, foreigners, newcomers. People who need to integrate just as much as you do. They don’t have to be people from your native country, but you can learn about this new place together.
7. Don’t be afraid of being alone
Do not depend on being with other people to live the experiences you want. Taking days out to absorb your environment, ordering lunch alone, or even turning up to events unaccompanied will help you encounter new people and experiences in a way that would never be possible otherwise.
8. Allow yourself home luxuries
Yeah, you want to live the foreign life, but don’t feel guilty about indulging in food, music, or personal items from your native country. We need these little reminders of our identity.
9. Welcome visitors
Whether it’s friends from home or couch-surfers, once you become the host who is welcoming new arrivals, you will realise how much you know about this foreign land. You will own your life abroad as if you were a local. The best way to learn is to become the teacher.
10. Don’t give up
Homesickness can make you want to throw in the towel and leave it all behind. But the adjustment takes time, so keep making the effort and you’ll come through strong in the end!
Hopefully you’re feeling a little better after these tips. Moving abroad can be hard at times, but normally the people you meet and memories you make make it all worth it in the end!
If we missed any important ways you have got over homesickness abroad, let us know in the comments.