Expat question: I came back from home a week ago, but still miss my home very much, and I don’t feel like going out or blending into life here. What can I do?
Yes, this is a completely normal reaction. In many cases the first phase of expatriation is quite uplifting. You see everything in a very positive light, everything is refreshingly new and exciting, there is always something new to explore every day, and you cannot wait to find out what new, inspiring thing the next day will bring you.
From time to time however, homesickness can affect anyone
…who lives far from their family, and it can make for an unpleasant time. There are many things you can do to feel better though.
Give yourself time to adjust. If possible, make your transition from one country to the next a gradual one, instead of making a rapid change. Maybe you can reduce the frequency of contact with your loved ones gradually (this might sound funny, but some people like playing games together virtually), maybe you can buy yourself a cup of coffee and sit down at the airport a little bit, and just observe the people and places around you so you can get used to your new circumstances gradually. Another good idea is to leave sufficient time for unpacking, doing the washing, filling up your fridge, etc., and only then should you jump into your other activities.
‘Take a good care of yourself’
Let yourself feel whatever you feel and take good care of yourself (instead of beating yourself up for feeling so negative). By being compassionate about your experiences, the unpleasant feelings will fade away sooner.
Remind yourself that it was your choice to move abroad, and why you want to be in this country; make living abroad, in that country specifically, an attractive goal for yourself. This step is important for you for two reasons: it reminds you about your control over the situation, and it also prevents you from falling into self-pity or into the victim role.
Plan something exciting
Before visiting home, plan something that you are looking forward to do when you return: an exciting theatre play, meeting with someone, a festival, a sports event, anything that tells you ‘I want to go back because I want to do this and that, etc.’
Reflect on what you really miss, what is really behind your sadness. Homesickness is a natural experience (by living abroad you have indeed lost something – the close contact to your friends and family, weather, lifestyle, food, cultural activities, etc. – and you are reminded about this when you visit home) but it can also be a sign of something more serious, where you need to take action, especially if your homesickness is a recurring experience that happens every time you go home. People can find themselves dissatisfied with who they are in the new country, or how they live there, and it’s then worth checking what’s going on and seeking professional advice.
I hope these techniques will help you, and you will feel better about being abroad.
Having further questions? Check Nora’s