Homesickness may be defined as a feeling of longing or missing one’s home while being away from it. Not all travelers report feeling homesick, although many do experience it. Homesickness may manifest in varying degrees, from mild nostalgia to full blown depression. As a mental condition homesickness can become an issue in that it may keep you from focusing on more immediate matters such as work or studies. Indians working overseas have been known to find unique and creative ways to deal with the condition. Here are some pointers derived from that collective wisdom.
The first step to deal with the condition is to know it. You may feel telltale signs of the onset of homesickness. Suppressing them is not a solution. Keep in mind that feeling homesick is natural and normal. Be ready to discuss it openly instead of hiding it away. As with any other problem, you can start addressing homesickness only after you acknowledge it.
Have something to remind you of the good times back home. Have a family picture or memento placed visibly in the space where you live. Talk to your family and friends back home regularly. Get and share updates about life, work and events. Share pictures and messages often. It helps to know that your family thinks of you as fondly as you think of them. These gestures are especially useful in the initial weeks and months when you lack local friends.
Get a taste of home
When faced with homesickness Indians living abroad often turn to food. There are several places in the UK, Canada, Australia and the US where authentic Indian food is readily available. In places where it is not, Indians frequently rely on homemade goodies with a long shelf life, such as pickles, preserves and sweets. Many Indians learn to cook while abroad, to the surprise and delight of their families. A taste of good, homely food goes a long way to fight homesickness.
Homesickness needs time to develop and takes root faster in an idle mind. The onset of the feeling can be significantly delayed if you keep yourself busy. Enjoy your work, make friends at the office, be social, read, play outdoor games, exercise regularly, cook, eat healthy, and take-up a hobby. Your hours will be gainfully occupied and you may have no time to be homesick.
List all the activities that you can do in your new location, which you could not do back home. Indians do not commonly get opportunities to attend ballet or opera performances, or to enjoy outdoor activities such as ice skating, snowboarding, cookouts, barbecues and the like. Explore the local tourist attractions, cuisine, street food, fairs, art, museums and the like. In addition to beating homesickness, adventures like these will give you a much better orientation of your surroundings. The best possible use of your free time would be to learn the local language. Language proficiency can make you more effective in your job, widen your perspective, help find friends and make the most of what your surroundings have to offer.
The one feature of home most commonly missed is interactions with friends. By developing a network of like-minded friends abroad you can beat and even reverse homesickness. Enjoy local activities with local friends. Facebook and Couchsurfing are great platforms for finding events where you can meet people (face to face) with similar interests. It is also a good idea to find local friends from back home (other expats). Many global cities have vibrant Indian communities. These are the people who can give you tips on everything from discount shopping to optimizing your international money transfers, to making your life easier overseas. Many Indians quickly develop a healthy circle of local friends who soon feel like another family. Some Indians become so steeped in enjoying foreign cultures that they sometimes report feeling homesick during their short visits back home!