When we talk about living abroad, we often focus on the good things. How it’s an opportunity, and often a lifeline, for ourselves and our families. Or how it’s a culturally enriching experience that will change us for the better. While all those things are true, we seldom acknowledge the drawback: homesickness.
Moving overseas, even if just for a season, does take a toll on us. It’s easy to feel homesick when we’re far from our loved ones, especially when the move is long-term. However, homesickness is an incredibly human emotion. And if you’re feeling down right now, we’ve got good news! There are plenty of effective ways to deal with homesickness.
As a money transfer company, we spend most of our time working for and alongside expats who are making a living far from their loved ones. However, they find ways to continue supporting their families and communities, even if they can’t visit them often. And this goes beyond financial support. It’s about honoring and upholding the bonds that tie you to your community and your culture, no matter where you are.
Below, we’ll walk you through different techniques to deal with homesickness. For best results, we strongly recommend following as many of these as you can.
Ways to deal with homesickness
Now that we’re clear on the fact that homesickness is a normal and natural human response to separation, let’s talk about how to cope with it. Before we get started, however, there’s one important rule: don’t beat yourself up for feeling homesick.
It doesn’t matter if you feel this way for a few days or a few months, missing home is natural. It stems both from your emotional and your biological ties to your environment. Both your body and your mind will need an adjustment period, so be kind to yourself while you adapt.
1. Stay in touch
The first tip to curb homesickness sounds obvious at best and counterintuitive at worst. But staying in touch is an integral part of the adaptation process. While distance can be daunting, finding ways to stay in touch will help put your mind at ease. Yes, you’re far from those you care about, but they’re not gone.
If you haven’t left home yet, it’s good to start planning how you’ll stay in touch. Do you need to get your loved ones a tablet or computer for video chats? Can you get a neighbor or local internet café to help them out? You’ll be way more comfortable being away once you’ve figured out the logistics of staying connected.
2. Honor their time and yours
Time zones, work, and household responsibilities can make staying in touch a bigger challenge. Long-distance relationships take work and determination, so make sure you’re honoring other people’s time as well as your own. That means putting in the effort to sort out the best times to chat and committing to it. Prioritize the little virtual quality time you get with your loved ones, regardless of how busy your life abroad gets.
3. Make new friends
Although your family and friends from home will always be there for you, moving abroad is about fresh starts. Go out and make friends! Join local clubs, mingle after work or during lunch hours, or sign up for meet-ups. It’s hard to break out of homesickness if we don’t put in the effort to make a new home for ourselves. It might feel like betraying your past, but you’ve already made the decision to move to a new city, so make the most of it!
4. Plan visits
We’ll never stop missing our loved ones but planning visits can help us feel a lot better. If we already know when we’ll be seeing them, be it because you’re flying home or they’re visiting you, you can use that knowledge to curb your homesickness. For example, if you’re in school, you can focus on the new semester and be comforted by the fact that you’ll see your loved ones for the holidays. Even if you need to take some time to save up before you go, having a clear date and budget planned out will make your goal tangible.
5. Put away the picture album
The easiest, and most detrimental thing, we can do is lean into our homesickness. Keep picture albums and mementos where you can still see them, but maybe not on your bedside table. To make long-distance work for yourself and your family, everyone involved needs to transition into a new routine. If you spend your time at home, reminiscing and calling your family non-stop, neither of you will have a chance to tend to other important things. We know it’s hard. But these things are like ripping off a Band-Aid.
6. Let time do its thing
Does homesickness ever go away? It does. Instead of an overarching feeling of gloom and separation, homesickness is replaced by little moments of nostalgia. Readjustment will take time for both you and your loved ones, but the human mind is quite resilient. Soon, your new home and way of life will feel as familiar as your home. When that happens, you’ll be able to reap the benefits of belonging to different countries and cultures (and even get past the homesickness).
And there you have it! We hope these tips help you deal with your homesickness so you can go back to thriving. And remember: be kind to yourself. Moving abroad is a challenging process. It takes a lot of guts, courage, and determination to become an expat. Once you’re established, we’re here to help you stay connected to your loved ones, one money transfer at a time.