10 ways to overcome homesickness when living abroad

By far the most common rhetoric I hear about when listening to people about moving overseas is about how incredible it all is, how “you’ll never regret it”. I personally found it all too intoxicating by the romance and glamour of it all.

Something a lot of people aren’t too quick to share about their travels are the moments where they are a single click from buying a seat on the next flight home.

Homesickness is difficult to deal with and overcome and also a different experience for everyone. Everyone has those vivid memories and personal home comforts that when unavailable, we frequently crave and allow them to consume our thoughts. For some people it may be family and friends, others a place or routine, for me it’s both. Heck, I even miss silly little things such as a familiar accent and the laugh of kookaburras that used to wake me up every morning.

Whatever you’re feeling, I’m here to say it’s okay. Please know that it’s normal to think about life back home and miss it. Sometimes it’s not as easy as “home is always there if you want it” and as an expat living on the other side of the world, I’m here to share how to overcome home sickness and ease into your new life abroad.

1. Take the pressure off

People often arrive in a new country with excitement and fresh with our hopes and dreams that we wish to complete without snag or delay. We’re often quick to rush in and experience our new home and boast about the glamorous life of travel and enjoy the novelty that comes with being in a new place.

But the honeymoon phase eventually wears off. We then often find ourselves questioning our choices. I often ask myself “what are you doing?” or even worse “what if I did something else instead?”.

This often puts us under incredible pressure as we fight with ourselves and we begin to get caught up in expectations and doubts instead of taking a step back, setting realistic expectations and enjoying the small things as well as the big instagram worthy days!

Things to avoid:

  • Scrolling through social media and comparing our journey to someone else’s. (More on this later).
  • Telling yourself that you should not be feeling the way you are.
  • Telling yourself that going back home will solve everything or anything.

What to do instead:

  • Explore your new surroundings whether it be a walk by the sea, the woods or in the city.
  • Establish a new routine and commit too sticking to it everyday.
  • Remind yourself of the reasons of why you moved to begin with and make a list of things that you want to see.

2. Make a bucket list of experiences

Okay so you’re here now so don’t go wishing your special time abroad away. It’s something that will shape you into becoming a better person and an experience you will want to look back on with fond memories.

Research new areas you may not have heard of before and cultural events around you big or small and take the time to travel and explore them. You don’t need to go to a destination with a set goal, just explore! I’ve found some of the most amazing places by just aimlessly wandering and taking in the atmosphere. You will also be surprised about how many amazing people you come across when doing this.

Make a bucket list and use the list as motivation to keep yourself busy and immerse yourself into a new environment! You will notice a once intimidating and completely fresh journey soon begins to feel familiar and homely.

3. Bring home to your new home

When you move to a new country it’s inevitable to experience at least some culture shock no matter how easy you thought it would be. It’s hard to drop everything that you’ve grown up around and have provided you comfort and to a degree, who you are as a person.

Whether it be a dish from home, a TV series, pictures or furnishings for your new home or room, surround yourself with things that give you a feeling of home and allow you to transition to your new environment bit by bit. My husband connected us with a VPN subscription so that we can watch Aussie tv shows whenever I feel a bit homesick.

4. Create a routine

Having a disruption to our routine is the most contributing reason that leads to our homesickness. It only makes sense, after going from knowing the ins and outs of everything surrounding you, to being in a foreign country.

Whether this is joining a local gym, pilates studio, work, meal prep or a weekend hobby, establishing a base routine is an important way to resume your life and keep yourself busy. Slowly but surely, life will begin to feel normal again and that homesickness will subside.

5. Don’t compare your journey to someone else’s

It’s all too easy to get caught up with the glamorous pictures and the perfect lives of travel influences or the highlights of others journeys and may compare ourselves and wonder why we’re not having the same experiences The truth is, everyone feels this way and we all choose to share the highlights of our journeys and not so much that bits in between.

You may also be keeping up with friends and family from home who doing new things in their life and celebrating milestones that you’re not able to celebrate with, giving you serious FOMO. You may also question yourself and wonder if the choice you made was right.

The fact of the matter is, it’s almost guaranteed that they’re looking at you in the same light.

6. Adopt / look after a pet

Unless there’s something amiss, the majority of us enjoy the company of animals. A dog, cat or even a hamster are amazing creatures to talk to and add meaning (and lots of much needed cuddles) to our lives. If you’re in the position to adopt a pet, this can be a great way settle into a daily routine.

It is understandable that not everyone is fortunate enough to have the luxury of having a pet. This could be due to no pets allowed in your accomodation, frequent travel commitments or finances. Perhaps you even plan to one day move back home and are worried about the rigmarole that comes with transporting your pet, there are other options that I wish I knew prior to travel.

Side note: Adopting an animal is a life long commitments so only do this if you’re in the position to do so.

7. Keep in touch with family and friends

Missing family and friends can be difficult to cope with and we often don’t realise how important they are and how much we enjoy their company until we’re living abroad. All of a sudden we miss our mums constant worrying and our sisters stealing our clothing.

It can be also difficult to watch them move on with their lives and feel like you’re missing out on important milestones. Make sure you make time to check in with one another with daily text messages or a weekly face time. It’s often just what you need to solve the homesickness feeling.

At the same time, don’t become too reliant on your friends and family as this can take away from your abroad experience and stop you from making new connections.

8. Make new friends

This brings me to the next point of making new friends. Although it’s still good to stay in contact with our old friends, don’t be afraid to move out of your comfort zone and meet new people. They will help you immerse yourself into your new surroundings and help you establish your foundations.

There are also many places around the world which are hot spots for fellow expats, especially major cities. Reaching out to other expats can also allow you to relate to their life experiences and gives you someone who probably wants to explore as much as you. It also expands your world that little bit more.

I have friends that have spread out across the globe, this additional opens up opportunity for ongoing adventure beyond your expat years as travelling to new places when you know somewhere who lives there makes it all the more immersive. Keep your options open, join groups, teams or even keep an eye out at work, you never know when you may meet your best friend.

9. Learn something new

It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, there are always new things to learn that can help keep you busy and help you to connect to your new environment, people and country.

Whether it be a new language, a new recipe or new activity, there are ample options to choose and various classes or groups to join to help you on your journey. This gives you a challenge, some fun and help you learn more about yourself which is what travelling is all about!

10. Practice mindfulness and stay positive

Mindfulness is often misunderstood and very underrated yet extremely beneficial to us all. This is especially true for those of us who are living overseas and feeling unsettled on occasions. I recommend researching the practice of mindfulness and find what form of it may interest you.

In a nutshell, it is the practice of being present in the moment to help find gratitude and help us to focus, understand and process our emotions. It also comes with a number of other benefits such as emotional regulation, decreasing stress levels of anxiety and depression, promoting general good health and wellbeing and also provides us with mental clarity.

Putting into practice meditating at home 10 minutes of day, downloading a yoga app or joining yoga classes within your country are just a few ways that you can practice this state of mind.

I’m an Australian blogger based in Central West NSW who has spent the last few years exploring the four corners of the globe, living as an expat and falling in love with the world just a little bit more everyday. Here you can find my tips, guides and experiences to help inspire you for your next trip!

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