Homesickness is Normal
You finally did it. You made the big move that you know you needed. Maybe you made this decision as a single person, ready for a fresh start and a new location. You may have even left to help provide a better life for your family.
No one told you how hard it would be to be away from home, did they?
Many Expats often feel like a fish out of water. In a completely unfamiliar town or country. Trying to assimilate to the culture and the shock of language barriers or knowing where and how to shop for their basic needs.
Adjusting to a new life is not easy. And because of the excitement in the build up to the big move, many people feel shame when they realize that the transition to life in a new land isn’t without its challenges.
When you add in the feeling of homesickness for the life left behind, it makes things even worse. While the move might have been needed, desired or a life-long dream, it doesn’t mean that things will go seamlessly.
If you are deailng with homesickness as an Expatriate, you are not alone in your struggles. And know this: it is a well established fact that being an expat as well as homesickness can affect one’s mental health.
Becoming an expat is a big transition and big transitions affect us emotionally. Here are 3 ways to help you deal with homesickness AND help you to overcome being homesick so that you can get back to enjoying the adventure of a lifetime.
1. Eat Comfort Foods And Foods From Home (In Moderation)
Being in a new location can sometimes mean that the food from your home is not as easily accessible. Thankfully, we live in a digital modern society where access to supplies is much easier than it used to be.
Chances are, you are likely living near a city or in one. This will often give you access to a variety of stores that sell a diverse array of different ethnic foods. If not, as we just said, you could always order what you need from an online store, such as Amazon.
Eating the food you are used to having can help you feel better. It might take more effort to get what you need, but, it can always be your comfort food and reminders of home and the people you left behind.
It’s not just the food that we miss when moving to a new country, city, or state. Missing our loved ones is probably the hardest part about moving. When you are in a new location, there is a good chance that you are in a completely different time zone than your home.
Time zone differences can be a huge challenge when trying to keep in touch with your people at home. It definitely isn’t impossible. If you aren’t sure how you can overcome these challenges, here are a few ideas to make it a little easier.
- Text: You may not get an immediate response, but texting is an easy way to stay in touch and up to date with your loved ones.
- Schedule calls: Texting is fine, but a lot of times, we just want to see a person’s face. Try to schedule a weekly FaceTime or video chat session. One of you may need to stay up late, wake earlier, or take a break during mid-day. Even if it’s only 10 minutes, you’ll both feel better about the distance by seeing each other.
- Send videos: If scheduling a video chat is too difficult, why not send them a video instead and them to you? Record yourself talking about your day, what you are feeling, and your plans. While it isn’t quite the same as chatting through video, it is a good workaround and will help alleviate the symptoms of homesickness.
3. Talk About It And Express Your Feelings
It’s human nature to bottle things up. We don’t want to talk about the issues we are facing because we know other people have a lot going on. But knowing that we all have something going on can help open up other conversations. At the end of the day, we all need human connection.
Being an expat, as exciting as it is, also has its share of difficulties. But many people feel shame in admitting this. The shame makes things exponentially worse. For this reason it is important to give yourself permission to feel all of your feelings without judgment.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to someone you love and talk about how homesick you are. There are also a variety of Facebook groups or chat forums where you can talk to other Expats. You may also have luck searching for other Expats in your city through social media and groups.
If you are uncomfortable doing any of that or are more of an introvert anyways, it can be highly beneficial to reach out to someone who understands what it is like to be an expatriate.
As a therapist and Expat myself, having lived in multiple countries and states, I know how ultimately rewarding but initially challenging this is. Homesickness is not easy to deal with, but together, we can find more ways to help you manage these tough feelings and thrive.
I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the USA and an Accredited CBT Therapist in the UK with over 17 years of experience, one of my specialties is providing expat therapy for expats. I also completed advanced training in using Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Compassion Focused Therapy