Homesickness

And How to Deal With It

Emotion is natural, and travelling generally evokes a multitude of different emotions. Excitement, anticipation, and joy are some of the positive ones. However, there are some emotions you may feel that do not fall under the "happy" category. As a student studying abroad, I know first hand how your emotions can be all over the place, and I’ve learnt some techniques to help with it. 

The first few days in your new location are generally pretty exciting. You have the fun task of unpacking everything and settling in to your new home, decorating your place exactly the way you want it. But, these exhilarating moments can be dampened by boring but necessary tasks such as filling out paperwork. If you’re feeling overwhelmed because you might be missing an important document or you're having trouble filling out the required papers, breathing helps. It may sound stupid and cliche, but taking three deep breaths will honestly make a big difference. During the 30 seconds you take to focus on your breathing, your heart rate will decrease, your mind will slow its thought process, and you’ll feel calmer and better able to handle whatever situation you are in.

But let's skip forward a bit: you’ve tackled the move in and now you’ve been living in this new town for a few weeks and you’re feeling good, until you get on your social media accounts and see all your friends and family from back home having a great time without you and you start to wonder, "Are they even thinking about me? Have they even noticed I’ve left?" You get sad, and then you feel lonely, and now you’re totally homesick. How can you get yourself out of this funk? Get out. Get out of your bed, or chair, or room, or wherever you were! And put down the phone while you’re at it! Take this time to appreciate where you are right now. Go walk down a new street you haven’t explored yet. Go try that cute coffee place you keep saying you’ll visit but haven’t yet. Knock on your neighbour's door and introduce yourself. Do something that’ll make you appreciate why you made the move you did. Remind yourself that you did this for a reason, and you’re going to make the most of it. It’s not going to be easy, and you’ll definitely have bad days, but living in a new city holds a wealth of opportunity. Take advantage of it, and you won’t regret it. 

Social media and the technological advances that have come and will continue to come make communication so much easier than it ever has been. I know I just said that a good way to make yourself feel better if you are feeling homesick is to put the phone away, but depending on the day, sometimes a little chat with your mum or dad, brother or sister, friend or significant other will help you feel better. Tell someone how you feel, because in most situations talking about it helps. Locking away the sadness will not make it go away. It'll only give it a place to grow. So don't be afraid to cry a little—let the negative feelings out to give the positive room to grow. 

Another idea that I've found to help conquer the feelings of homesickness is to make a list of all the things you like about the new place you are in. Start with little things such as, I like my bed because it is comfy, and I like my room because it's cosy. Then work your way out. Start with the things you can see and move on to what is nearby. Is there a cute cafe down the street? Is your school or office building a short walk or drive away? Is the weather warm and sunny, or cold and snowy; which way do you prefer? Write it down. Putting it on paper makes it some what more real. It gives you hard evidence that there are things here that you like, that it's not all bad. It'll also give you something to look back on for when the next bout of homesickness kicks in, because it'll never completely go away, but it is definitely manageable.