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Welcome back to this blog series about Expat Worries. This series was designed to talk about all the problems (both large and small) that expats face, and how to manage them effectively. This week we’re going to talk about homesickness, and what to do when you’re missing your family and friends.
Missing Home, Family and Friends
So you’ve learnt how to establish a social life in your new home, and you’re steadily on your way to making new friends. But that doesn’t mean you don’t miss everyone back home. But worry not, just because there are thousands of miles between you, it doesn’t mean that you can’t keep in touch. Here are some ways you can stop yourself feeling homesick, and feel closer to your family and friends back home.
Make Time To Talk
There are a lot of new things going on in your life right now, and it might be difficult to find time to talk to your family between managing your working life and trying to get set up in your new home. At times like these, it’s vitally important you keep a connection with the people back home, so you don’t feel like you’re isolated far away from the people you love. Make time for regular calls, either via traditional means or internet based ones. There are plenty of free calling options available online, like Skype and Google Hangouts, or Facetime if you have an iPhone. With even Facebook adding voice and video calling options recently, there really are very few reasons not to keep in touch. Set up regular calling times with your parents, your siblings, and your best friends and it’ll go a long towards alleviating that homesickness.
Plan For Trips Back Home
This might be more or less viable depending on how far away you move. If you’re from New York and living in Sydney for example, it would involve an expensive and lengthy flight to get back home. Even so, it’s helpful to plan trips back home as often as you can, as well as having your family and friends visit you from time to time so you can show them your newly adopted landscape. If you do find yourself travelling long distances, it might be helpful to meet up in a country in between, to cut down on travelling for both you and them.
Make Local Friends…
Having local friends can go a long way towards alleviating your homesickness, and helping you recreate the support network that you had back home. A close local friend may invite you to their family functions and help you feel more at home in your new surroundings, as well as helping you out anytime you feel overwhelmed by the culture or customs, or get lost on your way home from work.
…But Have A Friend From Your Home Country Too
As much as you’ll want to engage with the local culture, its always useful to have someone from home around to make you feel closer to your roots. It’s comforting to know there’s somebody else that’s been through the same problems you have trying to adapt to their new environment. Having friends from a similar background can help you feel less lonely, especially to begin with.
Make Your New Home a “Home”
It might sound obvious, but setting your new apartment or house up to feel more like home will help you feel a little bit more relaxed in your new space. You can’t bring your entire house with you, but bringing that strange shell you found on a beach in Greece or the tapestry you bought on that trip to Morocco would go a long way towards making your new place feel more like your own.
Don’t Feel Guilty About Immersing Yourself in Your Home Culture
When living abroad, sometimes you feel as though you should be throwing yourself trying out every facet of your new culture – but that doesn’t mean you should push yourself from your own culture. It’s okay every now and then to go eat and drink some of the same things you would have at home, as long as you take care not to overindulge.
Living in a new place doesn’t mean completely erasing where you’re from or ignoring events that are important to you. Those little tastes of home can go a long way toward making you feel closer to your comfort zone.