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What to do when you are homesick…

Homesickness sucks.

You arrive in a brand new and exciting part of the world. You’re ready to meet fresh people, experience new cultures and widen your horizons and you can’t wait for it all to begin…
Then, despite all of your best efforts, you cannot shake the ache of home.
You can feel the heavy sinking in your heart as you look back on memories of your old room, friends, family gatherings, storefronts, accents, snacks, weather and yearn for that sense of familiarity and comfort around you.

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I thought moving to Canada would be a piece of cake.
Everybody speaks English so I don’t have to learn a new language .
They listen to the same music, eat the same food , watch the same television shows , and on top of all of that, I was going with my boyfriend so I had somebody I love to experience it all with .

Even considering all of the above, I completely underestimated how much of a culture shock it would be. Everything is different. I am different. And multiple times since I arrived, I have felt lonely, lost and seriously doubtful of my decision to move here – and what I have learnt is that homesickness is totally normal!

Instead of letting my homesickness get me down, I have used it to fuel my determination to adjust and value this journey. There are some that stay in their hometowns their entire lives and that works for them. However, YOU have made the decision to travel, study, live, learn and experience another country. YOU are awesome.

Homesickness gets the best of us.
It means that you are lucky enough to have a bond with your home country and its people that is powerful enough to live in your heart and stay with you. I believe that is to be celebrated.

And home is always a flight away.

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Despite this, I know that homesickness is difficult to shake once it plants its evil seed inside you and is impossibly tough to go through.
So here are my suggestions to help nip it in the bud so you can start to embrace this amazing decision you’ve made:

  • Take time to be a tourist

It can be overwhelming when you start thinking deeply about the long-term decision you’ve made. Therefore, spend some time being a tourist of the area. Treat your new home as if you are temporarily stopping by, visit all of its landmarks and participate in its famous activities. Instead of sitting in your new apartment, worrying about your decision to live there, get out and learn more about it! Removing the feeling of permanency from the situation will help in heaps and you may even meet some new friends during your exploration.

  • Don’t get caught up with FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

I’ve found that the worst culprit for my homesickness is when my friends from home post a group Snapchat, or my mum posts a family gathering photo on Facebook, or my old work tweets about a cool promo they are doing. FOMO is inevitable and it is sad to know that your old life is continuing without you.
Take some time away from Social Media (maybe temporarily turn off notifications from your best friends) to avoid this from happening and make small promises to yourself each day about how you are going to start building new relationships.

  • Surround yourself with home comforts

Whether it is your old stuffed animal, throw pillow, rug, photographs of loved ones, TV box-sets or favourite food, make an effort to ensure you have familiar objects that you love around you. Amongst everything that is new in your life, you will really appreciate having small comforts and memories of home to enjoy. It makes a huge difference for me.

  • Talk about how you’re feeling

Homesickness does not mean you are weak. It is extremely common, understandable and nobody should ever judge you for it. Even those that seem strong, confident and super adjusted may be suffering behind closed doors. Talking to somebody (preferably from your new home) is invaluable and can really help release the emotions resting heavily on your mind. I feel that just saying my worries out loud and letting some tears out always lessens the burden.

  • Send gifts back home

Despite my previous point of avoiding FOMO, it is still important to keep in contact every now and then with your loved ones. I schedule a Skype session with my family once a week and have made an effort to send small touristy gifts to friends back home. Just the act of thinking what people might like to receive from your new country allows you to appreciate how exciting it is and what it can offer!
I also make note of my loved ones’ birthdays and arrange for flowers or cards to be sent to them. This really helps me feel better about being far away, shows that I am thinking of them and gives me peace of mind that they won’t be forgetting me anytime soon!

  • Bond with another expat

I have found that the biggest cause of feeling isolated is being the only expat consistently in a room full of locals. Conversations steer to your accent or your home country and it sometimes feels like what you are actually saying is lost. I absolutely love meeting other expats, and not necessarily even from my home country. Hanging out with somebody going through the same thing really helps and provides us both with much needed therapy sessions, bonding over missing home, sharing tips on adjusting to expat life – and it’s great not being the only one that is different in the crowd for once!

  • Learn a new skill

Moving to a new country is an incredible way to broaden your understanding of yourself. Why not keep adding to your personal growth? If you can get stuck into a new hobby or passion, it will keep you busy and distracted from missing home and help you to make friends and feel more integrated.
It could be anything that takes your interest:
A sports team; an acting, art or cooking class; a photography, reading or writing group; a fitness or meditation class; a language school; a dance academy – Embrace the change in your life and in yourself!

  • Treat yourself to ‘me’ time

Don’t forget to take an important break from the chaos of moving and adjusting to your new home. Treat yourself to a mani-pedi or even a long sauna and swim in your local swimming pool. Spend time by yourself reading your favourite book or watching your ultimate childhood movie. I think it’s important to recharge and feel comfortable alone as much as it is to be surrounded by new friends and experiences.

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The most important thing to remember is that you’re not alone in how you’re feeling. Remind yourself what you would be doing right now if you were at home. I can guarantee it wouldn’t be as exciting as what you could experience here and now!

What Makes a Country ‘Home’? Read more about embracing your second home HERE.

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Jenna
    March 28, 2018 at 2:25 am

    Great list! Where about a in Canada did you move. I live in Canada too!! Lol. High five neighbor!! I loved your idea of making Skype dates with your family and sending little gifts. Although I have not moved my brother did and I find having these little FaceTime dates so important to not only me but for my kiddos to stay connected with their uncle. Aren’t you glad we live in a time that has this technology. Lol. Hope the homesickness gets better. Thinking of you. ❤️

    • Reply
      Kate - TheHomeWanderers.com
      March 28, 2018 at 3:36 pm

      Yaaas High-Five! I’m in the GTA (East of Toronto) – What about you? DEFINITELY thankful for modern technology… I know for a fact I couldn’t do this without it. Although it’s still got a way to go, the amount of time I spend staring at the frozen face of my mum whilst the bad WiFi reconnects is painful!

  • Reply
    Lambam
    March 28, 2018 at 11:07 am

    This is an exceptional article and at some point in our lives , we all are so away from home and we feel home sick , the tips in this post will definitely come handy . Thank you for sharing 😘😘😘

    • Reply
      Kate - TheHomeWanderers.com
      March 28, 2018 at 3:38 pm

      You’re welcome Lambam!! Thanks for commenting 🙂 I really hope it helps you whenever you go through it.

  • Reply
    Kelly Keegan
    March 28, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    The FOMO issue is often the killer too, I was living in Mexico City and missed the birth of 2 babies, a hen do, a wedding and all the usual birthdays, Christmas etc. It can be really hard, but you’re 100% right, by acknowledging that some things will be hard you can get over it easier.

    • Reply
      Kate - TheHomeWanderers.com
      March 28, 2018 at 3:39 pm

      TOTAL killer… That would definitely be tough. Lucky for me I haven’t missed that many landmarks! It just makes it even more special when you do make it to an event 🙂

  • Reply
    Deola
    March 28, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    I know the feeling all too well. Moved to Canada as a student when I was 19.

    The way we see things matter a lot. I especially like this part of your post “It means that you are lucky enough to have a bond with your home country and its people that is powerful enough to live in your heart and stay with you. I believe that is to be celebrated.” – You won’t feel homesick if you didn’t care.

    • Reply
      Kate - TheHomeWanderers.com
      March 28, 2018 at 3:40 pm

      EXACTLY. I think I repeat that line to myself at least once a day whenever a pang of sadness hits me about home! Just the fact that we are homesick in the first place means we are so so lucky to have such special people in our lives. And I can count down the days until I see them again! Are you still in Canada now?

  • Reply
    ñai
    March 28, 2018 at 6:05 pm

    this post is great. I spent one year living in Belgium and I remember not fitting in quite well and missing warm and sunny Spain and my people. It was hard but after some months i learnt to live and love the new country -after all I had cheap flights for those super “i miss my home” days.

    xx
    http://www.malibluemymind.com/2018/03/9-to-5-working-girl-in-modern-world.html

  • Reply
    Marni
    March 28, 2018 at 11:06 pm

    Great suggestions ! My best friend moved to Thailand and had her first child there. This would have been so helpful!

  • Reply
    Meg
    March 29, 2018 at 7:08 am

    Ok, girl, I totally needed this post this week. Today I am quitting my job and we are moving out of state. We are leaving all our family behind in Florida. We are so homesick already at the thought of leaving. This really helps me cope and it has some good advice. You are great!

    • Reply
      Kate - TheHomeWanderers.com
      March 29, 2018 at 2:55 pm

      Meg I’m so glad you found it helpful! It’s amazing how lonely you feel when you are homesick, but actually, there are SO many of us going through it and totally understand how much it sucks. Focus on the adventure you’re about to have – You guys are so brave to quit and leave, I’m sure you’ll have the best experiences. Your family and friends are always going to be there. Good luck <3

  • Reply
    Dani
    March 29, 2018 at 11:24 am

    Oh I definitely feel you! I’m living away from home and was feeling really homesick a few weeks ago. What helped was getting out more and mixing. Sometimes it’s out of my comfort zone. My sister is also in Canada! I definitely not homesick yet, she’s having a blast!

    • Reply
      Kate - TheHomeWanderers.com
      March 29, 2018 at 3:00 pm

      Socialising is definitely one of the best ways to distract yourself, and it leads to meeting new people and helping more long-term too 🙂 Where is your sister in Canada? I’m so happy for her that she’s loving it!

  • Reply
    Ellie
    July 9, 2018 at 8:29 pm

    Hi! So good to know there are others out there going through/who have been through all those sort of emotions! I moved out to Toronto with my young family in February and despite people saying I’d meet mums at school I haven’t and do really miss having a friend to do life with even though I keep in touch with friends back home. Definitely going to give social media a miss for a while (that has not helped me settle!) Thank you for setting this site up! It’s definitely needed 😃

    • Reply
      Kate - TheHomeWanderers.com
      July 13, 2018 at 9:16 am

      Hi Ellie – Welcome to Toronto! Feel free to email me and I’d love to grab a coffee – Where are you from originally? Friends do come eventually, you have to give it lots of time (I was totally impatient with this aspect too…) So glad you’re finding the site useful <3

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