From spending the weekend with your grandparents when you were 6, to the 3-week holiday with your best friend at 18. The one feeling you are sure never to escape? Homesickness.
It’s pretty safe to say we’ve all been there at some point, whatever your age.
Homesickness? Forget about it.
Things are different now, though, you’re moving away from home for a considerable amount of time, whether it’s to a different city for university, your exchange year or you just got that job in a new foreign land. But there’s the problem… you know it’s going to be for quite a while.
Moving away is not something to be trivialised or belittled. It’s a big deal! A big, exciting, terrifying, once-in-a-lifetime deal. After all, it’s not every day that you leave the comfort zone of friends, family or in a lot of cases I’ve heard about; leaving Yorkshire teabags behind.
What is important is that this feeling doesn’t ruin the experience and adventure you are about to have. You are in a brand new place, with new people, food, and sights. Embrace and enjoy it. The best way I have found to deal with homesickness is to occupy your mind with other things. So here’s some tips and tricks to stop homesickness getting the better of you and your adventure.
So you’ve just arrived in your new room, set up the place how you like it and you’re sitting there with thoughts switching between ‘what have I done?’ and ‘holy moly, this is exciting!’
It’s this anticipation that’s going to give you the adrenaline you need to get out there. Take the opportunity. Go for a walk and have a look around. Take in the new sights, smells and sounds. It’s going to be one of the most exciting parts of your trip (they call this the honeymoon period). New streets, new buildings, people, flavours – the list goes on. The more you immerse yourself in them, the quicker you’ll start to feel a bit more “at home”.
Put On Your DJ Hat
Music can be a huge help. My personal tragedy arriving in Japan was that my Spotify account cancelled when I moved, so I didn’t have my favourite albums and feel-good tunes. Having that jazzy playlist with the likes of Stevie Wonder and Hall & Oates can make your dreams come true… I’ll get my coat.
Music can be incredibly therapeutic and make your woes and worries disappear so putting together that playlist of songs you love puts you in a great mood for the day and can boost confidence.
Eat Frivolously and Often
Food can be a great way to get comfortable. With new aromas dragging you in every direction of that street market, you’ll find you have eyes bigger than your stomach. Finding a little café or unique restaurant can do wonders for your mental health while you’re away, homesick or not. A great tasting favourite or trying new things can keep your mind away from any negative thoughts.
Most likely, if you’re at an academic institution, there will be an international welcome committee or clubs and societies where it’s pretty easy to mix with individuals, who, like you are experiencing a new journey. However, sometimes this isn’t always the case.
Couchsurfing – I’m not saying you have to go and sleep on random people’s couches (although, if you are travelling I do recommend it). This site has a great section where people can post events happening in the local area like pub crawls, social dinners, yoga sessions and I’ve even come across philosophical debates. It’s a great way to meet locals and travellers alike and if you’re out having fun, your mind isn’t dwelling elsewhere.
Internations – another social website where you can create your profile and connect with expats and locals in the area. There’s also social events and forums where you can find the best things to do in the city and places to eat, etc.
Family Contact – It’s Personal
How often you need to have contact with your family or close friends depends on you, and it’s different for everyone. For some people, it’s vital for them to stay happy. For others, contacting family and friends can just make homesickness worse. In any case, do what is comfortable for you. If you feel you need an hour-long chat with your mum or dad, or just want to see your dog on Skype, don’t let anyone tell you it’s not a good idea.
But do try to remember that knowing every detail about the goings on at home isn’t anything like as interesting as what you could be doing. Think of it this way; you’re in an amazing, exciting new place and they’re not. So live it up!
Finally, I’ll finish with a quote from Tim Cahill, a travel writer, and contributor to National Geographic magazine.
“An adventure is never an adventure when it happens. An adventure is simply physical and emotional discomfort recollected in tranquility”.