Moving abroad is one of the most amazing experiences you’ll ever have. It could be for work, it could be to study or volunteer or even retire; it is such an amazing thing to do with your life. However, it is also completely different to traveling. It requires a much-altered mindset because, unlike when you are constantly on the move before retiring home, this is it; this is your new home, and that can be quite overwhelming.
Don’t get us wrong. It’s just like we said: amazing, exhilarating, eye-opening, breath-snatching and unbelievably amazing. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard at times, and those that say it isn’t are liars. That’s a fact. That or they are so immensely rich that they have the means to jump on a private plane and head home every time they start to feel a smidgen homesick.
Yeah, homesickness is the issue. But of course, it is. You are in a new place, with a different culture, a language you may not understand and a way of doing things you can’t get your head around; that is daunting, and that can make you crave home, especially around three months in.
As such, we have spoken to some movers-abroad that suffered from homesickness really badly and asked them for their top tips on how to come out the other side smiling – how to reduce that feeling of missing home- and here is what they said:
Be A Tourist First
You are new to this place, so treat it like that. Don’t fling yourself into the routines straight away and get used to this being your new home right off the bat. Instead, treat this like a vacation. Be a tourist. See the sights and head to the attractions and get to know your destination in the same way you would if you were traveling. Get to know the culture and the religion and pick up a few of the more useful sayings. Once you have done this and got to know the city you are in a little better, then start to go about filling your life with the everyday importances. We’re talking about friends, niches, foods, restaurants, parks, and where you want to live.
Get Stuck In
When homesickness sets in, wow, it will feel crippling at times, much like anxiety does. That’s why it can be so helpful to get stuck into the world around you and almost overexpose yourself to the way of life here. Tackle the public transport if that’s what makes you feel a little nervous, and go walk through that hectic street market or do some volunteer work. Whatever it is that may seem overwhelming, it will help if you expose yourself to it because this will help you feel more relaxed about even the most overpowering surroundings. Those we spoke to said this was what helped them hugely. It was hard, but it was helpful.
Make Your Home A Home
When you are living abroad, somewhere far from home and totally different in every way – like moving from western civilization to somewhere like Malaysia – one of the best things you can do is make your home feel more like home. You’ve managed to rent a house, now it is up to you to make that house feel more personal to you, more lived in, more comfortable and, yeah, more like home.
It could be pictures of friends and family, artwork that makes you smile and just a more homely interior decor in terms of how you design it and the stuff you use to fill it. The same goes for your workspace. The more comforting you make your spaces the more comfortable you will feel in your new environment.
Talk, Talk And Talk Some More
When you move abroad, you automatically gravitate toward people that you have things in common with, people from back home, other expats that have made the same move as you, maybe even for the same reason. Well you’re not alone because, chances are, they also felt the same wave of homesickness at some stage in the move too. So talk to them. Yes, you may feel like you are the only person in the world that hasn’t managed to fall in love with Venice, but that is not the case, so don’t feel you have to pretend you are fine and that you are super-positive about everything. Ignoring how you feel won’t help. However, talking about it with others will. It will lift the weight from your shoulders and allow you to hear about how others overcame their anxiousness. They will also be able to be that support that you need.
Make A Note Of The Positive Things
When negative thoughts and feelings start to manifest they can very quickly snowball. It can even be the slightest thing that sets you off and makes you start looking for a way out of your house contract and book the first flight home; something as small as your air conditioning unit stops working or your taxi took you to the wrong place. These little things, when you are feeling homesick, can make you start hating the whole country you are in. That’s where positive moments can work to halt the avalanche of negativity. Carry a notebook around with you and make a note of everything that makes you smile, or makes your heart skip a beat or fills you with a warm and fuzzy feeling. Reimagine that 100 Happy Days thing that went viral. This will give you a tangible record of all the things that you love about your new home and help you feel good about your decision the next time homesickness starts to creep in.
Have A Best Friend That Is From Home
One of the best things you can do to make your homesickness disappear and your experiences that much better, is to make friends with someone that is from your home country. It’s just nice having someone from home that you can talk about home with and rant with when you need to have a good old rant or someone you can chat to about the little things that no one in Malaysia seems to care about, such as how Brad Pitt and Angelina’s divorce is going. By doing this, and by having this connection with someone, you will feel much less like you are alone.