Feeling homesick is completely normal, but coping with homesickness can be quite a challenge.
Especially with the pandemic, closing borders and separating families and friends, many people right now are feeling extremely homesick – whether they are living, working or studying abroad. Homesickness typically sets in after the honeymoon stage, after the culture shock settles and everything seems foreign and confusing.
Homesickness can also come out in physical ways, such as gastric pain, lack of sleep and mood swings. So don’t feel ashamed about feeling homesick. Everyone goes through it at one point in their life, even if it’s just a long trip or vacation.
Here are some tips on how to cope with homesickness.
1. Make a list of all the places you have yet to explore
Include all things big and small, touristy and off-the-beaten-path. Take a bus without any real destination in mind and see where it takes you.
Then, go explore. You’ll remember why you went there in the first place. (Here are 5 more ways to settle down in a new city.)
2. Take a break from social media
Seeing what you are missing at home will not improve your mood. Instead, write a letter, email or even a postcard to a friend you’ve been meaning to get in touch with. Tell them all the things you’ve seen and done. Tell them what you miss about home.
Writing about how you’re feeling can help.
3. Plan a trip
So maybe you can’t get home now. Planning a trip either in the region or back home (even months in the future) will give you something to look forward to.
Planning a trip can get your mind off feeling homesick and keep you focused on something fun! (You can start picking places to visit on your travel bucket list with this round-up of must-visit destinations.)
4. Make new connections
Even if your “friends” are still more like acquaintances right now, make the effort. One great thing about expats is they all understand homesickness and having friends come and go.
One way to make new friends is to get involved in local events and the community via volunteering and group activities.
5. Do something you love
Whether it’s running, taking pictures, cooking, reading, knitting… you will feel some sense of normalcy and calm after feeling homesick. Plus, exercise and active days can help you release endorphins to make you feel better!
Consider downloading one or more of these fitness apps or pursue a passion on these learning websites.
6. Try some new local foods
Head down to new restaurants and food markets you’ve yet to discover. At best you discover something delicious you wouldn’t be able to get at home. At worst, you spent only a few dollars.
If you’re lucky enough to be in one of these cities, check out their world-famous street foods.
7. Cook your favourite comfort food home meal
A proper Sunday roast, a freshly-baked apple pie, butter chicken, perfectly spice beef rendang – whatever will give you a little taste of home, will fill your spirits.
8. Binge-watch something on Netflix
Okay, binge-watching isn’t approved by “the experts” to help you when feeling homesick. But it sure does provide a nice distraction. Whether it’s just too hot or rainy or you want a few hours (or a whole day) to wallow, nothing beats Netflix.
Looking for something to do at home other watch other than Netflix? Check out these 15 fun things to do when you’re bored out of your mind or give these 8 motivational podcasts a listen.
9. Go ahead and video chat
If you feel like you’re withdrawing from people, pull yourself right back. The amazing part of technology is that we can always stay connected to those we love. Sometimes you really just need a chat with your oldest bestie on hard days. (This is actually supported by research, in particular to boost your mental wellness if in isolation.)
Regular catch-ups will help keep you up to date with news back home. But don’t call your family every day – you need time and space to adjust to your new home country too.
Originally by Kathleen Siddell, July 2015 / Last updated by Isabel Wibowo