Missing Home: How to Deal with Homesickness Abroad
You might not feel homesick yet during your first few weeks after moving abroad. Everything is new and exciting; your mind will be preoccupied with the excitement of exploring your new home. This is commonly known as the honeymoon phase of living abroad.
But, sooner or later, you will start to feel you are missing home and you might not know how to deal with homesickness abroad.
That’s okay and you’re not alone.
Whether you are studying, working, moving, or living abroad, homesickness can affect you. And, yes, you can also feel homesickness even when you’re away for vacation.
This post will help you cope and show you how to deal with homesickness abroad. It’s easier than you thought and missing your home is very common!
Homesickness is feeling unhappy because you are away from home. You feel homesick when you miss your family and friends back home.
Feeling homesick does not only apply to those who moved abroad but people who moved to another city in their home country feel that too.
Homesickness does not go away overnight, and missing home doesn’t mean you made a mistake moving to a new country. Missing home is not necessarily a bad thing. It just means you have something special back home.
It takes a lot of time and effort to overcome homesickness. You’ll start to feel homesick when you are in a new environment or experience culture shock.
But, don’t worry, you will get there! You just need to step back and start thinking about why you moved abroad in the first place.
13 tips on how to deal with homesickness abroad
I was 16 when I first moved abroad from the Philippines to Australia to study. I can still remember how difficult it was for me. I was crying the first few weeks because I miss home, and it didn’t last me long. After a few months, I went back home.
This time, after moving to Sweden, I still feel homesick but I managed my homesickness better now instead of jumping to a drastic decision and going home again.
I’ve been there too and made some bad decisions. So, now, let me also help you ease that transition. Here are my tips on how to deal with homesickness abroad.
Experience life in your new home & create a bucket list
You are out of your comfort zone as soon as you leave home and leave your friends and family. Being in a new country alone can be overwhelming.
To help you avoid that feeling, you should create a bucket list of places you want to visit and things you want to do in a new country.
The bucket list can help you have something to look forward to every day, and it will also help you slowly get acquainted.
You can also start trying the local food too! I moved to Sweden so, of course, I wouldn’t miss out on the Swedish meatballs with lingonberries. One thing I need to get used to when eating at restaurants is not everything goes with rice!
Bring “home” to your new home
Making the country you moved to your new home can be difficult. But, it also helps if you brought some of your favorite items from home.
There are even scented candles that smell like home.
There are times when I crave Filipino foods. I would either cook a Filipino dish or buy Filipino snacks. So, the first thing I needed to find is the nearest Asian markets in Stockholm!
You can also display photos of your loved ones.
Create a new routine
When you move abroad, you are forced out of your routine, so you might feel all sorts of things. Another tip on how to deal with homesickness abroad is to create a new routine.
As an expat, you will feel like a tourist and not yet a local in your new home. This will worsen your feeling of homesickness, so creating a new routine will add normalcy to your daily life abroad.
Part of my routine during my first few months in Sweden is going to different places after work instead of going straight home. This helped me cope with homesickness and I get to explore Stockholm too.
Here’s a useful guide on how you can get your life together or create a new routine.
Stay in touch with your family and friends
Every time I miss home, I know I am missing my family and friends only. I don’t miss living in the Philippines. I only miss the food and the people. Miguel (my now husband) and I were in a long-distance relationship during my first two years in Sweden.
Staying in touch with your loved ones is important and a big help in overcoming homesickness abroad. But, this could be detrimental too.
You need to find a balance since talking to your family and friends back home all the time will keep you from experiencing new things in your new home. It’s normal to lose touch with friends because other people might find it difficult to communicate over text or call.
It’s still important to get along with people around you, not just those who you talk to back home.
Write a journal or think it out loud
Another tip on how to deal with homesickness abroad is to first acknowledge your feelings and write them out.
Writing a journal (or thinking loud) is an effective way to make us conscious of our thoughts and feelings. You can write (or say) anything on your mind.
How your day go, and if you are feeling positive or negative.
What’s more important is you acknowledge your feelings and deal with them. Sometimes, all we need is to let our emotions out.
Go out and meet new people
This could sound ironic but… I have more Filipino friends in Sweden than foreign friends! I don’t mind meeting new people, but I feel at home with my Filipino friends that’s why I hang out with them more often.
I didn’t know anyone in Sweden so I felt alone. This blog made a huge impact on me because I started to meet Filipinos because of it.
There are other ways for you to meet people too. You can join groups or local events. Nowadays, it’s easy to find especially on Facebook.
If you are in Stockholm (or in Sweden), here are some groups or sites where you can meet new people:
Making new friends who are in a similar situation as you so you can talk about the struggles of living abroad can help you also.
Learn a new language or something new
If you will notice, some of the tips on how to deal with homesickness abroad are to keep yourself occupied.
If you moved to another country with a different language, learning their language could be a good distraction!
I am still learning Swedish and my goal is to be able to converse in Swedish properly. I have tried several apps and Duolingo is my favorite so far!
If you don’t need or want to learn a new language, then you can learn anything you want. Explore new things and who knows? You might discover that you are creative!
Take photos of everything
I am sure there is so much to love in your new home and you need to take photos of everything! Otherwise, you wouldn’t move there, right?
As someone who grew up in a tropical country, I get excited every time the season is changing. I always take pictures and send them to my family. Especially, when there is a pile of snow!
Life abroad and in your home country has differences, so you can also share your photos to introduce your family and friends to your new life now.
Once you start to appreciate and love your new environment, you will realize that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages of living abroad.
Prioritize yourself & remember to take care of yourself
Physical activities such as exercising can help reduce homesickness since it releases happy hormones (endorphins). Go out, get some fresh air, and go for a walk.
In Sweden, you need to go outside to get sunlight since winters get dark! SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is a real disorder.
There are also different ways how you can take care of yourself:
- Exercise or go for a walk
- Find ways to relax
- Do something fun
- Get some sleep
- Prioritize not only your physical health but also your mental health!
Enjoy your own company
There will always be a fear of missing out on what’s happening to your family and friends back home once you move abroad. This will make your stay on social media longer than you want.
The more you check your social media feeds, the more you feel you are missing out on many things like celebrating milestones, friends and family reunions, holidays, and many more. And, I know how hard it is to watch from a distance.
Take a social media break every now and then and start appreciating your alone time. Focus on your new life now.
Plan a vacation
Nothing beats the feeling of going home after being away for a while. You can plan your visit to your home to help you cope.
If your home is too far and coming home often is not a good idea financially, then you can plan a vacation somewhere else too!
In 2019, I traveled to Germany, the USA, Poland, and Finland.
Miguel (my husband now) visited me in Sweden in December 2018 and he went back to the Philippines in March 2019. I didn’t want to go home to an empty house after he left so I booked a flight to Berlin, Germany the same day he went home.
Talk to someone
Seeking professional help is okay especially when you know your homesickness is affecting your physical and mental health.
You can also talk to someone who can understand your struggles so it can help you cope with your homesickness.
Adopt a pet
Of course, pets are better companions!
Before adopting a pet, you should consider everything and make sure you are not returning the poor pet.
Pets can help you deal with homesickness since they can keep you busy and create a new routine.
After all these tips on how to deal with homesickness abroad, missing home is okay and it’s not something to be ashamed of!
I hope you got a good support system from your home and in your new home so you can deal with it better. Remember that you are not alone and everyone who is moving abroad or studying abroad feels homesick too.
Quotes about homesickness
My favorite quote about homesickness is the one said by Winnie the Pooh.
How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.Winnie the Pooh
Here are more quotes about homesickness that you might relate to:
There is no shame in being homesick. It means you came from a happy home.Mrs. Hughes, Downtown Abbey
Maybe you had to leave in order to really miss a place; maybe you had to travel to figure out how beloved your starting point was.Jodi Picoult
Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.John Ed Pearce
If you’ve ever been homesick or felt exiled from all the things and people that once defined you, you’ll know how important welcoming words and friendly smiles can be.Stephen King
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