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Living & Working abroad

8 Tips On What To Do When You’re Feeling Homesick

Aug 25, 2023 by Fredrik Häggrot

Homesickness is a feeling of stress or anxiety caused by separation from people and places that you know. When moving abroad, it's almost guaranteed that you will miss home at some point. You'll be leaving behind everything you know: your family and friends, the familiarity of administrative systems, your day-to-day comforts and routines. But, we have collected 8 tips on what to do when you're feeling homesick.

How to avoid homesickness as an expat

Your new country will bring new environments, routines, cultures, architecture, and exciting discoveries. You might love it! Or perhaps, the new country may not meet the high expectations you set, and you find it hard to embrace local attitudes, making you feel out of place.

Even those who feel prepared and positive about moving abroad can experience culture shock and homesickness. That's why we've compiled 8 hands-on tips for when you're feeling homesick and to help your new country feel like home.

1. Bring Your Favorite Things

If your new home feels impersonal and foreign, it can be comforting to bring some of your favorite things from home, objects with an emotional connection and sense of security.

This could be anything; a picture of your family or pet, a teddy bear, your favorite coffee mug, the cast-iron pan that Grandma gave you for Christmas, or the plants from your kitchen window. Familiar objects at home can help reduce homesickness.

2. Establish a Routine

The new environment may feel overwhelming but don't confine yourself to your home and spend the day scrolling on your phone. It won't benefit you in the long run.

Come up with a daily and weekly routine that gets you out of the house and helps you get to know the city. Set aside days for grocery shopping, local sightseeing, physical activity, and networking. These routines will assist you when motivation wanes, and you hesitate to leave the house, helping you balance your daily life and prioritize your long-term needs. Research shows that good routines can help reduce stress, which can lead to more time to relax, better mental health, and less anxiety. Sounds like it's worth a try, right?

3. Get to Know the City

When you arrive in your new city, start by locating the most important places for you and figure out how to get there. It could be a grocery store, a gym, a school, or a park.

The best way to learn your way around the city is to immerse yourself in it. Expect lots of wrong turns, U-turns, and extra time to get where you're going at first. Instead of getting frustrated, see it as an exciting expedition.

Depending on the country you're moving to, the infrastructure, traffic, and public transportation may be different from what you're used to. Once you've mastered local transportation and can get around without stress, your relationship with the city will change. Suddenly, you'll see more possibilities of getting to different places, without draining your energy.

4. Find Your Favorite Spots

Find a favorite place outside of your residence to acquaint yourself with the new culture while also having a place to relax and feel comfortable. If you like reading, do it at a local café instead of at home.

Look for a place where you feel comfortable, that calms you when everything else feels overwhelming. A place where you feel at ease and at home. If not a café, it could be a library, barn, gym, bar, park, club, beach, or harbor.

5. Form Local Friendships

You might be moving to a new country with other expats, and it's natural to hang out with them. The expat bubble can be pleasant, but don't miss out on getting to know the locals as it can help you feel more at home.

Talk to your neighbors and people in local stores. You can ask them about their day or seek tips and advice to learn about the area. Another way to socialize with locals is to join organizations and activities that aren't primarily targeted at expats.

If you like working out, why not choose a gym with a wide range of group fitness classes or with lounge areas attached? If you enjoy reading, join a local book club! Read more about making new friends abroad here.

6. Learn the Language

A foreign language and lack of communication can definitely create a sense of alienation and homesickness. Observing how others greet, communicate, and behave while feeling that you don't fit in can be tough.

By learning a new language and understanding the local language, it will feel much easier and reduce the culture shock. It will facilitate practical matters in everyday situations such as going to the bank, shopping, and navigating public transportation, but also foster an understanding of cultural and social norms.

7. Meditate

When it feels overwhelming and homesickness is intense, it's particularly important not to act immediately on these strong emotions. With meditation, you can improve your ability to regulate feelings by being able to shift perspectives.

Focus on your breathing and set aside thoughts of homesickness, alienation, misplacement, and doubt for a moment. Gather energy, calm yourself, and bring those thoughts back when you feel ready to look at them with fresh eyes.

8. Be Patient

Last but not least, have patience. It can take time to find your place and feel at home in a new environment. Everything is new and new can be scary. Feeling homesick is not strange at all. Give it time, do your best to give the new environment a fair chance, and don't give up.

We hope these tips can help you out a little to make you feel more at home in your new home ! Got inspired to move abroad? Check out our jobs list!