Homesickness can feel incredibly like a physical, real illness.
You can sink into it for days like a depression, or feel a breathless pang of it without warning. It can come whether you’re a few kilometres away or a few thousand kilometres, whether you’ve been gone a few days or several months. Most of the time I’m super fine. I love the choice I’ve made to live abroad, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss home sometimes.
So here’s a few thoughts and advise that I can think of, that I find helps me when I’m feeling lost and lonely.
Indulge in the Expat Community
I know. You didn’t fly halfway around the world to hang out with a bunch of people just like you, but it’s a simple fact that you need these people around you. My fellow expat friends are some of the best people I know, and the bond of shared experience is stronger than anyone outside it can understand. They know what you’re going through, because they’re going through it as well. So seek them out, lean on them, and let yourself vent.
Spoil Yourself Sometimes
Whatever it may look like for you, do something that is just for you. Being an expat can be expensive (hey, I chose London), so it can be easy to lose yourself in the budgeting. Reward yourself every now and then with a little summint, summint just for you. For me, that’s getting takeout in the middle of the week or buying a bottle of wine that costs more than £5. For you, that may be a meal at a fancy restaurant or a new dress – stop beating yourself up for wanting something new and nice and just you know… Treat Yo’self.
We all know that exercise boost endorphins and endorphins make you happy. And happy people just don’t kill their husbands! Gyms are expensive I know, and group classes? Even more expensive. But if you search hard enough (and are willing to travel a bit), you can find some class that will work for you. Recently I’ve been going to swing dance classes with a friend. I’m super uncoordinated, but it’s a laugh and it’s fun and it gets me out of the house. That’s what counts.
Do Something That Reminds You of Home
Find comfort in what you already know. The fear for homesickness is that if you indulge it too much, you’ll never be able to move past it. But you do have to feed it every now and then, acknowledge the feelings and then do what you can to move on. For me, I like to look at photos, which I have strung around my room. I talked about making your temporary house feel like a home in this post. The On This Day feature on Facebook is sometimes a terrible thing, but it is also really great for reminding you of home. For me, it’s actually been a good catalyst to touch base again with someone I haven’t spoken to in awhile. Having photos and memories in front of you is comforting and the smallest outreach to someone can do wonders in soothing those feelings of loneliness.
Ask for Help
While researching for these posts I found some pretty alarming posts in expat forums – if you really think that you’re not coping, if you’re at the point where you’re Googling things like “homesickness is killing me” or “when should I see someone about homesickness”, I’m sorry but the answer is now. If you can’t think of a single good reason that you’re here and all you want to do is go home, then talk to someone about it. And if you don’t think it’s getting better and you have the means to, go home. There’s nothing wrong with that. Going home isn’t a bad thing at all, especially if you’re doing it for your health.