Living and traveling abroad for an extended period of time poses a unique set of issues. As I approach a year abroad I figured it would be a good time to share my experiences and tips on dealing with homesickness.
When you’re away from home it’s perfectly natural to feel some longing for what you’ve left behind. Once you’re initial infatuation and rose-tinted view wears off you’ll surely start to feel a bit of longing for home; friends, family, familiarity, your favorite foods, customs and culture, etc. The first few months away are great, but as you become acclimated to your new environment it becomes harder to look past what you’ve left behind. The best way to ease this transition from “novelty” to “acclimation” is by establishing your routines early. When I first arrived in Thailand I immediately picked up my running and exercise routine that I had a home; this gave me an “anchor point” so to speak.
Don’t fall out of touch with home. Spending too much time speaking with people back home and checking Facebook to see what everyone is doing is certainly not good, but at the same time it’s important to make sure you do keep in touch with those you care about. As you are away for longer periods of time you’ll realize that it becomes “normal”. Your friends and family become used to you being away, they no longer are as absorbed in your day-to-day, which means your conversations will become less and less frequent. It’s not that you’re forgotten, it’s just that you and your friends are all becoming used to you being away.
Treat yourself with ‘luxuries’ from home, but don’t overdo it. When I first arrived in Thailand I ate Thai food nonstop, it was delicious and new. But after a while I began to miss food from home, so I began eating more and more Western food, which in turn made me miss home even more. It’s important to treat yourself occasionally, but at the same time you must remember that living the same life you led at home is neither rewarding nor helpful in coping with change. Embrace the challenges that come with being in a new country, but don’t feel bad for an occasional indulgence, just make sure that it doesn’t consume your life.
As you can see, dealing with homesickness is a delicate balance between indulging your longing for home while still embracing your new surroundings. After a while these feelings won’t necessarily fade altogether, but they’ll become much less of an issue.