Although a common occurrence, if you were looking forward to working and living abroad, homesickness as an expat can come as a surprise. This is especially true if you’ve moved recently and are struggling to settle in and make the most of your new home. For many expats, homesickness is even thought to be a contributory factor in their decision to repatriate.
In today’s blog post, we’re exploring some potential remedies for homesickness that may help you deal with some of the negative feelings you may be experiencing (without making the drastic decision to return home).
Live in your new home mentally
Language matters. If you still refer to the place you live abroad as ‘the apartment’ then chances are you have yet to fully settle in. Bring as many comforts from your last home as you can, so your expat accommodation feels familiar, and try calling it ‘home’. It may not feel like it at first, but, in time, it should.
Acknowledge your feelings
Another important step in dealing with homesickness as an expat is to acknowledge your feelings. Engage in some self-reflection, something that journaling can really help with. Think or write about why you are feeling homesick. The root cause may be:
- Missing friends and family
- Stress or anxiety
It may well be a combination of all three. Once you have worked that out, think about ways you can alleviate those feelings; maybe join a local yoga class, a sports team, or arrange a visit home.
Meet new people
Although it may seem overwhelming at first, meeting new people in your new home will help deal with homesickness. As mentioned, there are some obvious options like joining sports teams or taking classes, but what if you are too busy to commit to either?
There are many expat forums or expat online groups that you can join, where you can meet other expats and locals on an ad-hoc basis for a variety of activities, from chess to skydiving.
Use technology… but not excessively
Technology, while working as an expat abroad, can be your best friend or worst enemy when it comes to settling in. It is a brilliant way to stay in touch with family and friends at home on a regular basis, but social media can make you feel more aware of what you are ‘missing out on’ too. Nights out, birthdays, and family reunions can be hard to watch from a distance.
It is important to remember that social media is life’s highlights reel, and you may not be missing out on as much as you think.
Plan trips home
Getting home to see family and friends in person is a good remedy for homesickness and crucial to the long-term success of the expat experience. Try and book trips home at regular intervals, or at least for the most crucial occasions, like religious holidays or milestone birthdays.
Look after yourself
When you first move to a new country and don’t really know anyone, it can be very easy to slip into unhealthy routines. Staying at home every evening and watching TV can be nice in the short term, but after a few weeks it is likely to have an impact on both your physical and mental health.
Reduce your chances of having to deal with homesickness through exercise. The endorphins will help keep feelings of homesickness at bay.
If you find yourself struggling with feelings of homesickness, it may help to talk to someone. Our international health plans include an Expat Assistance Programme which provides a confidential and professional 24/7 multilingual support service that can help expats and dependents address a wide range of life issues and challenges.
Please contact us if you want to discuss your Expat Health Insurance needs.