Moving abroad to live and work can be an incredible adventure, but many expats have the very real problem of being homesick. Most of the time they’re thrilled and excited to be in another country, but there are times of real sadness associated with missing friends, family, and home.
Whether you’re trying to become a freelance photographer, digital nomad or remote design professional, these tips will help you combat those sad, homesick moods.
1. Stay Connected…
One of the best ways to avoid feeling homesick is to stay connected with those who are still back home. Use services like Skype and Facebook Messenger to video call with family and friends. Let them know how you’re doing and that you miss them.
2. … but don’t overdo it!
While video represents a good way to stay connected with your loved ones, you should not overdo it. Don’t forget to experience what your new home has to offer. Go out and have fun, so when you finally talk to your friends you can share some awesome experiences.
3. Experience the Local Culture
Instead of thinking about what you’re missing back home, try to learn as much as you can about your new world! Immerse yourself in the local culture – visit the market or take a casual walk with no destination in mind. Usually the best experiences are those that we do not plan. You’ll feel less like an outsider when you spend time in the community.
4. Bucket List the Country
Make a list of all the things you’d like to see while living in your new country. Don’t miss traditional tourist stops, but make sure you also experience the country as a native would. Talk to locals to find out the best places to eat or shop or check out TripAdvisor for awesome suggestions.
5. Connect with other Expats
The expat life is as beautiful as it is difficult. One of the best ways to combat homesickness is by connecting with other expats. Only other expats can really understand your longing for home. Talk to them about your struggles, longing for home, and language and cultural barriers.
6. Routine and Habits
If you enjoy activities like running, yoga or music, take part in classes or groups as you would back home. Make the activity part of your weekly routine. If you had a book club at home, find one while you’re away too.
7. Have your Family Visit you Abroad
Asking your family to visit is a win-win situation: they get the chance to visit a new country and you can enjoy some quality time with them. Having family over can also help you see your new country in a different light. Visiting tourist attractions with your loved ones and embracing their positive reactions will make your new city feel more like home.
8. Take Courses
Language and cultural barriers can also make you feel homesick. Therefore, learning the local language can help you become more connected. Along with language courses, take a cooking class to learn the local flavours and meet other people in the area. Locals will appreciate your effort of absorbing their culture. Maybe you can also teach them something from your home in return. Exchange as many experiences as you can!
9. Bring Your Camera
When you visit the local markets or walk around your new city, it can be a good ice breaker to take your camera. If you’re a photographer, that’s a natural way to make you feel more at home. Take pictures of local people and landmarks. Visit the parks and shops with your camera too. You can send these photos to your loved ones.
10. Banish Negative Thoughts
Sometimes, it can be as simple as changing your mind-set. If you’re allowing yourself to have negative thoughts like “It seems like I stick out” or “I can’t seem to make friends”, you’ll end up setting yourself up for negativity. Instead, turn those negative vibes into positives. Promise yourself that you’ll get out and meet new people every day. Don’t allow those thoughts to dominate your life.
Overall, this is an adventure. You’re in a new country and can learn to make the best of it or wallow in misery. Most of us would rather be happy than miserable. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself and keeping an open mind about your new surroundings. It won’t be like home, but that’s the entire point of going to a new country.
Alex Moore is a recent West Virginia Business Management graduate and an amateur photographer. He took up photography when he was studying a few months abroad and felt very homesick. Photography was the best therapeutic remedy and once on it, time flew by. Alex returned home happily with a hobby he gained for life. For more info, follow Alex on Twitter at alex_moore01.