How To Deal With Homesickness When Living as an Expat

If you’re living as an expat like me then you’ve probably already experienced homesickness and maybe you’re not sure how to really deal with it. Homesickness is one of the hardest things we have to face when living abroad. The definition of homesickness is connected with the feeling of being insecure or uncomfortable with where you are right now. You’re missing your home, your family and friends, because they represent something that is known and stable. You often feel homesick when you start living abroad and everything is new. If you don’t have any friends there and you have never been to that city before then it can get even harder. Homesickness symptoms usually include loneliness, sadness, loss of confidence, and also frequent mood swings. When I moved to Chicago I was feeling homesick a lot, because that was also the first time that I moved far away from home for a longer period of time. I was constantly asking myself how can I get over homesickness and if it ever goes away. After almost 2 years of living abroad, I’ve learned how to deal with it and in this blog post, I want to share some tips that will help you in the battle with homesickness too. Here is the overview of the things that helped me in the past 2 years:

  • Stay in touch with the family and friends

  • Pack familiar things with you

  • Network - make new friends

  • Travel and immerse yourself in the culture

  • Get busy, start a new hobby and learn something new

  • Remind yourself why did you move abroad in the first place

1.Stay in touch with the family and friends

Whenever I’m feeling homesick, I always call my family or my friends via Facetime or Whatsapp. It fills me up with so much positive energy. Today it is much easier to stay in contact with loved ones than it was in the past because of all the technology that we have. I would recommend chatting with them 2-3 times per week. I think that is a healthy amount. If you do it too often, for example, every day, then you will start to miss out on the things that are happening around you and of course, you should also focus on building relationships with the people in your new country.

2.Pack familiar things with you

If you’re about to move abroad then packing a couple of familiar things with you will definitely help with getting over the homesickness. Take some photos, photo albums, souvenirs or a book with you. You could also pack a familiar food or drink or even a stuffed animal or a blanket. You will always have a piece of your home with you no matter where your next destination is. It will make you feel happier and appreciative of what you have. I always have a bunch of photos with me and whenever I’m feeling down, I go through them and remember that my family is doing okay and me living as an expat is the only right thing for me at the moment.

3.Network - make new friends

Socializing is very important when it comes to dealing with homesickness. Making new friends will make you feel more accepted in your new environment and they will eventually become your second family. Whenever I was feeling homesick in Chicago, I always called my friends and we went for lunch or just for a short walk around the city center. That helped a lot and I was immediately feeling better. It’s good if you can start connecting with other expats and not only with the locals. They will understand how you’re feeling because they are probably missing their home as well.

If you’re not sure how to network or where to find other expats, I would start by joining expat groups on Facebook or other social media platforms and try to connect there. You can also meet new people by participating in different sports activities or maybe joining a book club or a cooking class! There are a lot of options you just have to stay open-minded.

4.Travel and immerse yourself in the culture

One of the best cures for homesickness is traveling and immersing into the new culture. Take your time to explore the country that became your home away from home. My partner and I are traveling around Germany every weekend and in the past 3,5 months, we saw beautiful places. Traveling fills you with good energy and happiness. Prepare a bucket list with all of the places that you want to see before moving somewhere else. Try to also immerse yourself in the culture as soon as possible but also don’t overdo it. Eat their food, listen to their music, try to connect with the locals, and get to know their traditions. In the process, you will learn a lot about yourself too.

5.Get busy, start a new hobby and learn something new

Whenever I’m feeling homesick, I try to get busy and this will definitely help you in your battle with homesickness. It’s great if you can discover a new hobby or try to learn something new because then you will have no time to think about how much you miss the comforts of your home. Maybe you always wanted to learn how to play the guitar or perhaps join a dance class. Now is your chance to do it! Learning a new language can also be really helpful, especially if you just moved to a country where a lot of people don’t know how to speak English. In addition to all of the things that I just mentioned, I would recommend exercising regularly. It will definitely help you combat homesickness and on top of that, it will keep you healthy. Whenever you’re exercising, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. Because of them, you will feel happier and more relaxed.

6.Remind yourself why did you move abroad in the first place

Why did you move abroad in the first place? That is a question that you need to ask yourself whenever you’re feeling homesick. Did you relocate because you wanted a better job opportunity? Maybe you wanted to change the climate or you moved because you wanted a better quality of life for yourself? Reminding yourself why did you relocate will help you battle with homesickness and put everything into a perspective. It’s important that you write down what was the reason behind your move. Write it on a sticky note and leave it somewhere where you can read it often. It will motivate you and put you in a positive mood.

Does homesickness ever go away?

Now that we covered all of the things that will help you deal with homesickness, I can answer the question that probably often pops up in your head. Does homesickness ever go away? If you hoped that the answer to it it’s going to be yes then I will have to disappoint you. Homesickness never really goes away but you can learn how to deal with it and learn how to feel better. I know expats who have been living abroad for over 10 or 20 years and they still sometimes miss home and their loved ones. You have to understand that feeling homesick is completely normal and it happens to almost everyone who lives abroad. If you will try to ignore it, it will only make you feel worse. It’s important that you acknowledge the symptoms and start facing the issues. It is a long process and you don’t have to rush it. Talk with someone and don’t be afraid to share your feelings. We are all in this together! I would recommend you to check this blog post from GoOverseas where you will find even more tips on how to face homesickness.

Let me know how you’re dealing with homesickness in the comment section down below and feel free to reach out to me on social media.

Till next time…

Lara P.