Finding your home away from home
Homesickness is a very normal thing to experience as an expat. When you move far away from home in a pursuit of finding your home away from home you can find yourself longing for something else, something that you used to have. In my experience, after expatriating I am always missing somewhere or someone. When I am in my new home country I miss my old home country, and when I am visiting there I miss my new home. Am I doomed to always feeling homesick? Short answer: yes, but I have got some tips for you on how to make it a little bit more tolerable.
Why does homesickness happen?
Homesickness is the feeling of distress caused by being away from home or your loved ones. People typically find comfort in putting down roots somewhere. Most of us enjoy having a stable home with the objects and people that we like. We find comfort in routines – going to the neighbourhood supermarket and knowing exactly where the tomatoes are or knowing where to find the best coffee in town. As expats we choose to defy this norm. We step out of our comfort zones and move far away from what we are used to.
Will homesickness ever go away?
No, no it won’t. In my experience it comes and goes as the years pass by. Now, I am not saying that you are doomed to feeling severely homesick every day for the rest of your life, but there’s probably always going to be something you miss from home from time to time.
How to overcome homesickness?
There’s definitely no one size fits all kind of an answer to this one but here’s a few things that can help you deal with homesickness better.
1. Visiting regularly (if possible)
It can be very comforting to know when you will be able to visit your home next. This can help you cope better with the feelings when homesickness hits hard. When you aren’t able to visit often, maybe there’s a snack or meal that can help remind you of home.
2. Finding your home away from home
This can be a tricky one if you are still in the beginning phase of your transition, but eventually you will find your place in your new community. Try thinking about what you miss from home – is it knowing where to find the best freshly baked bread? Or is it having people around who you know? You can try to find the feeling of home by exploring the options of your new home. When you start to find a good routine you will hopefully slowly start to feel less homesick.
3. Stay in touch
Often times it is the people we miss the most from home. When this is the case it’s time to make use of technology. We can count our blessings for being expats during the time when video calling is possible and (almost) free! In order to get the feeling of still being a part of your loved ones lives, why not try going for a walk together while calling, or cooking a meal together while video chatting?
Homesickness and mental health
It is completely normal to feel homesick. However, sometimes homesickness hits us so hard that we start to experience symptoms of anxiety or depression. If you are missing home so much that you cannot get up in the morning, have lost your appetite, or feel the physical symptoms of anxiety, it’s time to find someone to talk to about it. It is ok not to be ok, but we have to learn to recognize when this happens and find the appropriate help to move forward. Our psychologists are expats themselves, and have also experienced homesickness. If you would want to find someone to talk to about these feelings contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.