People move abroad for a wide variety of reasons. They may relocate as part of a career move, to accompany family members, to experience life overseas or to study in a foreign country. Whatever your reasons for leaving your home country you may one day realize that your ties to home were stronger than you had anticipated and you may find yourself becoming homesick.
All expats at some point during their relocation, or beyond, will feel homesick and may start to miss their friends and family, the culture of the home country, and even the food. These feelings are nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed of and, providing you handle them in an appropriate way, your memories and closeness to your home country can be a source of happiness as opposed to causing you pain. Here’s our top tips for embracing the feelings of homesickness and preventing them from negatively impacting your life overseas.
1. Try and prepare in advance
If you know you are moving overseas then it is useful to mentally prepare for the fact that you may miss home once you move abroad. The most successful expats are those that plan ahead for the fact that they may experience homesickness and take things from home with them that hold happy memories. These may be photograph albums and scrapbooks, food items, magazine subscriptions, etc. It is also sometimes worthwhile to make a note of all the things in your home country that you don’t like, as it is very easy to romanticize places once you have left them.
2. Stay in touch
If you are already living overseas and are missing home you may be tempted to avoid contact with people back home for a while as it can be painful to be reminded of what you are missing. However, it is crucial that you do stay in touch with your family and friends on a regular basis as it allows you to remain an integral part of their lives and ensures that you remain in the loop with all the major developments back home. A word of warning though: don’t be tempted to phone home too often or continually chat to your friends on Facebook chat because this will prevent you from embracing your life in your new country. The key is to try and maintain a healthy balance between staying in touch with your friends back home, while also giving yourself the time and space to experience life overseas to the full.
3. Blog about your experiences
A great way to both venting your feelings and sharing your life with people back home is to start an online blog. A blog acts like a diary and you can post updates on a regular basis sharing stories of your life overseas. You can add photographs and videos so that your family and friends back home can share in your experiences and see first hand where you are living, who you have met and the exciting adventures you’re having. If you are feeling low and missing home it’s totally fine to blog about this too; you will find it attracts positive supporting comments from your friends and family and you won’t feel so alone.
4. Get out and make new friends
Although it sounds obvious, you should never underestimate the importance of making an effort to integrate yourself with social networks in your host country. It’s fine to miss friends from home, but the sooner you make new ones the better. Look out for meet and greets or expat clubs where you can go and meet like-minded people. It won’t be long until you’re enjoying life in your host country far too much to focus on feelings of homesickness.
One great way of channeling your energy into something positive is to exercise. If you’re feeling low and struggling to get home off your mind go for a run, a swim or even join a gym. This will give you space to think and the adrenalin you will produce from cardio activity will give you a natural boost and help you to feel better.
You have a whole new life and environment at your fingertips; instead of focusing on what you’ve left behind get out and explore. Take yourself for a walk, go and visit some tourist attractions or relax in a park; remind yourself that there is life beyond your home country and that you are privileged to have an opportunity to experience life overseas.
Do you have any practical hints and tips for overcoming homesickness? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.