What does homesickness mean? According to Fisher and Hood (1987), homesickness is described as “a complex cognitive motivational emotional state concerned with grieving for and being preoccupied with thoughts of home.” This is indeed a strong, complex, feeling as so many negative emotions are associated with homesickness: anxiety, stress, insecurity, loneliness, etc. It can akin to signs of depression. As an expat, it is totally normal to feel homesick because you are now living far away from your family, friends, and relatives. But also because you are now out of your comfort zone. Fortunately, there are little things you can do to make this moment more enjoyable and regain the excitement of the first few days in your new country of residence.
1. Transform your place into a cosy cocoon
This place you now live in will be your temporary home during your stay in your new country. It is time to make it feel like it is your real home. Every time you go back to your home, you should feel excited and happy to be there. Decorate and furnish your house to find the comfort of your own home. Make your bedroom your personal space, your living room a cosy place to invite your friends for a party or simply to enjoy quality time together.
2. Acknowledge your feelings
It is okay to feel down as homesickness is part of the transition from your previous life to the new one. Allow yourself some time to accept this situation and dare to confront what you are truly feeling. Do not feel ashamed to seek comfort from your friends. Thinking in a positive way will be the best medicine in this given moment. Tell yourself that you are not the only one in this situation, all other expats have gone through this rather unpleasant experience – this is part of your journey abroad!
3. Better connect to your environment
Feeling of homesickness appears when you did not adjust yet to your new environment. You are missing your old life because you are not also feeling comfortable enough where you are now. You can easily change this situation by finding places where you enjoy spending time such as in a restaurant, a library, or a coffee for example. You should not stay in isolation and, instead, visit as often as you feel like it, your new friends. This will enable you to feel more connect to your new life. Explore your new environment to find your mark.
4. Go out and meet new people
Keeping in touch with your family and friends is definitively key if you feel homesick. However, it is not always the best way to overcome your anxiety. Social media is more likely a poisoned gift. Even though WhatsApp, and other instant messaging apps, will make you sad feelings feel slightly lighter, reality will, in the end, kick in even harder. So, take advantage of your free time to spend more time with your colleagues, friends, etc. and do not be shy to actively seek new friendly people to meet with.
5. Always enjoy yourself
Expatriation means a whole new start in your life, so why not enjoy it to the fullest? Live your experience actively by travelling and exploring new places. Take an active role in as many activities as it pleases you. Do not hesitate to practise sport to keep yourself busy and full of energy. If you are a student, then why not get involved with extracurricular activities? If you are a freelancer or have professional activity, you could very well challenge yourself and learn new techniques. Cooking dishes from your new country can also be a good way to free your mind and to discover new rich flavours. There are many ways to indulge yourself with quality food and stay healthy.
These 5 tips will actively contribute to lower your stress and to ensure that you get the most out of your new life abroad. And since being an active expat can sometimes be very exhausting, you should never forget to relax and take a break whenever necessary. Your cosy home is the perfect place for that!