Feeling homesick abroad? Here’s what to do.

Berlin Translate

What should you do if you’re feeling homesick while you’re abroad?

The moment when the dream of living abroad suddenly turns into a nightmare because all you want to do is go home. For so long, you have looked forward to time away from it all: A long-desired holiday, or a well deliberated new start with a job in another country. Then a simple feeling threatens to ruin everything. 

What actually is homesickness?

In order to avoid feeling homesick, it can really help to know where this feeling actually comes from. It can actually turn out to be something positive, even thought it doesn’t seem that way at first. Those who are homesick long for – often somewhat blissfully – to return to their homeland. This “homeland” may be a specific place, specific like family or friends or a specific feeling. It refers to something familiar, something that makes you feel at home, sheltered, safe, something that makes you feel like you belong.

Determining this homeland can help you to understand and find yourself. What is important to you? Where do you belong? What do you want? You miss a home that is suddenly no longer there because you are somewhere completely different. Homesickness helps you to find the answers to these questions. Looking for the important things in your new home is precisely how to tackle feeling homesick.

What should you do if you’re feeling homesick while you’re abroad?

What can you do to stop feeling homesick?

For some, it helps to be in contact with at home, so that they feel close to them: whether that be through texting, phone calls, or via Skype. Perhaps your old friends want to come and visit you and discover this new home with you. This is how your homeland and your new home can become one and thus it becomes easier to integrate into this new country. Some people, on the other hand, prefer the complete opposite: they try to reduce contact with their old life and focus entirely on this new home and new life in an attempt to better understand their new home.

You can do the same with small mementos that remind you of your homeland, such as a teddy or photos that make you feel more comfortable in your new home. You can make your room your own so that you can create a safe place to come back to. This makes feeling like a stranger in a foreign country much less daunting. It is, therefore, permissible and also advisable to take time for yourself. You should, however, be cautious as to not isolate yourself and hide away from your new home.

At the same time, looking to the future and to completely plunge yourself into this new adventure can help. Ideally, do as many things as you can to get to know your new area and step-by-step make yourself feel more at home. Besides, distractions from those dull thoughts can do you some good. It is often possible to find like-minded people who also feel homesick as they too are far from their homeland. Both company and interaction can help you share this distress and it can help you to feel less alone. It is also important to find locals to help you to get to know everything that bit better. Therefore, adopt both old and new hobbies in your new home.

A set routine can also help you to acclimatise to your new surroundings. This creates a sense of a normal day-to-day life and helps you to feel more at home. This may even be old habits that you have integrated into your new surroundings.

Feeling homesick isn’t the end of the world!

Above all, it is important to accept that you are feeling homesick. There is nothing bad or condemnable about it. You can and should talk about it, whether that be with old friends, your host family or via a blog. It also helps to write about your negative thoughts and experiences and at the same time the positive experiences that you have been through in order to come to terms with things and to gel with your new surroundings that bit more. If needs be, chocolate or somethings that you brought from home are always sure to bring you small moments of joy. In any case, the key is to push through this feeling of being homesick, it will pass!

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Jack Caine