Homesickness and how to cope with it
What is homesickness?
Experiencing a longing for one’s home during a period of absence from it.
Judging by the number of people searching for answers on this subject, homesickness is a huge issue for many expatriates. And it’s not a problem that can easily be dealt with.
Homesickness can strike at odd and surprising moments or be an all-pervading emotion that occupies your entire life. I think all expats have experienced feeling homesick at some point in their lives, and to differing degrees.
Here are some articles on ExpatChild you may find useful and encouraging.
Visits home when you are an expat
Keeping in touch with friends and family while overseas
How to overcome homesickness
Some wise words from dollarvigilante.com [link no longer available]
Overall, it is an emotion that you ought not be scared of. Like all emotions, it comes and goes. When you are feeling homesick, you might feel as though something is wrong, but nothing is wrong. It should be expected that while embarking on a new journey you will long for your old lifestyle. The feelings of homesickness are a sign of you beginning to adapt, and over time they will grow less acute.
To handle homesickness, it is important to not get too carried away in thoughts of home, as these can become a sort of addiction that arrests you. Instead:
- Think about the wonderful new experiences and lessons that being abroad is bringing you.
- Make sure you are ready for real time contact with your friends and families back in your old hometown or city. Sometimes writing is better, as real time contact can bring a lot of overwhelming feelings to the surface. To be sure, real time contact should not be a problem with most who are abroad and removed from their old lives.
- Find your new friends! Meet a nice boyfriend or girlfriend so you can learn a new language the most efficient way possible: under the sheets.
- Don’t decide that if you can’t take the homesickness that you are going to go home. Instead, stay focused on the likelihood of your success in the new environment. Remember why you came there in the first place.
- Stay engaged in the now. Soak in your surroundings. Go out with new acquaintances. Adapt to your new job, if you must take on a new job. Forget the homesickness feelings and party or study. Be sure to do what you do.
- Establish a new routine. It might be a lot like your old routine.
- Write home. There’s nothing wrong with an ongoing email dialogue with friends and family from your old land.
- Talk to someone. Perhaps there are other expatriates you know who potentially have had similar experiences.
- Practice time away from home. If you haven’t departed for your expat days, perhaps spending extended vacations away from home before you go can help soften the shock of a new land.
- Suck it up and take advantage of your wonderful new phase in life. You will see many strange, exciting, breath-taking and totally foreign things, and this is excellent. The memories you make will turn you into a better person, a more complete individual, with a better understanding of your place in the world. Chances are, if you’re a North American, your very first trip abroad will separate you from vast swathes of your fellow countrymen and women, who have never even stepped foot out of their own familiar hometowns and cities.
Expatability Chat Podcast
If you’d prefer to listen to me talk about this topic, here is my podcast episode about How to cope with feeling homesick as an expat