Moving abroad is exciting, challenging, thrilling and fascinating. But it can also be depressing. No matter how wonderful your life is in your new country, there will always be one or many things that you miss from back home. It makes moving abroad difficult and for many people it takes the thrill out of immigrating.
If, after a few weeks in your new home, you find yourself longing for certain aspects, people or places from your previous home, don’t worry about it. There is nothing wrong with you. This happens to most people. It’s important that you acknowledge your feelings and pay attention to them in order to lessen them.
We are all familiar with the term homesickness, but we generally only apply the name to the feeling of missing your home when you’re at summer camp or you travel abroad for a limited period of time. Yet it can apply just as well to the feeling of missing your old home when you move abroad permanently. Some people see their new country as home, but for the most part, your new country won’t start feeling like home for at least the first few months or perhaps even years. Therefore, you can definitely relate to ‘homesickness’.
Homesickness is defined as the distress or impairment caused by a physical separation from your home. It causes depressive and anxious symptoms and causes the suffered to become withdrawn from their current place, finding it difficult to concentrate on anything else than home.
Here are a few tips on beating that feeling and making it easier on yourself to adjust until you can view your new home as your real home.
Because you approach your new city as a permanent place of residence, you might not think to go out and see the tourist attractions because you’re busy with finding the grocery store and primary school. Rather than miss your old home, throw yourself headfirst into everything amazing about your new home. Pretend you’re a tourist and meet the ‘happy’ side of the city too.
Become familiar again
The lack of familiarity is a big player in feeling homesick. You miss everything being ‘easy’, or rather you miss that you know exactly how everything works and that most things come automatically to you – the public transport system, your job, the checkout at the store and the way people greet each other. It will take a while to regain that position of being familiar with a new city’s inner workings, but try and immerse yourself as quickly as possible. Humans are incredibly adaptive species, you just have to allow yourself to adapt to all the small things too.
Another way to create more familiarity around you is to start with your home. Surround yourself with as many familiar objects as possible – photos of family and friends and even the household items that you brought with you during the move. Create a familiar space in your home, and it will make familiarizing yourself with the things beyond your home easier.
Find local food you love
The food in a new country is one of the most difficult things to get used to. What is worse, you can’t live without food, so you don’t really have a choice in the matter. It’s normal for you to miss the food of your home country, especially if the cultures are very different from one another. One way to deal with this is to indulge in your new country’s food as much as possible, as quickly as possible. Find local foods that you like, and going to the restaurant won’t be an anxious affair for you anymore.
Another way to deal with this is to bring the food from your old home into your new home. Most first world countries have international stores where you can buy specialized ingredients, but you can also choose a dish that doesn’t require strange spices, but that is simply prepared a certain way. Make an effort to cook this food in your new home, perhaps even inviting over some of your new friends. Now you have another piece of familiarity that will make you stronger for when you’re dealing with the less familiar things in your new life.
Allow yourself a bit of homesickness
Being homesick doesn’t have to be a terrible thing. There is nothing wrong with missing certain elements of your old home. Allow yourself to miss them, but then bounce back and accept your new life. You never have to let go of who you were before. On the contrary, once you realize that you can be exactly that person, only with different surroundings, you will be just fine.