How to deal with homesickness (when you're on the OTHER side of the world!)
You know what’s hard? Moving to the other side of the world by yourself.
You know what’s even more difficult? Not having any of your family here.
You know what’s even worse? Not having a job locked in, a home ready or a group of friends you can turn to when you first arrive.
Whether you’ve moved to the other side of the world, or an extra 30 minutes away from your friends and family, we all experience homesickness at some point or another.
When I made the decision to move from Sydney, Australia to London, I wasn’t worried about getting homesick. Sure, I was nervous to have to make new friends, find a new job and place to live, but the thought of leaving my family didn’t stress me out too much.
With the modern era of technology, I knew I could rely on apps like Facetime, Skype, WhatsApp and social media to stay in touch. I come from a very digitally-savvy family, and there isn’t a day goes by that we all don’t somehow communicate.
So when I was hit with the biggest wave of homesickness I’ve ever experienced, I was LOST. One minute I was sitting at work in the middle of a campaign brief, and the next minute I could barely breathe. I’d stumbled across a photo of my mum from Christmas last year and I was suddenly overcome with emotion.
If you’ve suffered from homesickness, you’ll find that it’s difficult to explain what the heck it is. It’s like an emotional tsunami that swells within your stomach, blocking your throat and making it difficult to breathe. The tears pour freely without a second thought and the absolute longing to be home practically screams from every bone in your body.
How did I cope with it? I went to the bathroom, stood in there for five minutes and bawled my eyes out.
Now I’ve experienced the wrath of homesickness, I really don’t like the thought of my friends, family or complete strangers having to go through something like that alone. I’ve been hit with it a couple of times more, but nowhere near as bad. I’ve come up with a few coping mechanisms that really have helped me, and I do hope they’ll help you too.
Don’t ignore it. It’s okay to miss home, in fact, it’s perfectly normal. Whatever you do, don’t keep it bottled up inside because it may turn into something sinister, or cause you to abandon your dreams of living on the other side of the world. Let it wash over you, and let yourself feel it, it’s okay.
Tell someone about it. When I was at work, I didn’t want to tell anyone because I was still fairly new. Oh boy, how I wish I did. The other couple of times I’ve had it, my colleagues have been absolutely wonderful. Whether you need to call your mum, a friend or even a free hotline (call SAMARITANS on 116 123), it’s best to talk about it and explain how you’re feeling. There is always someone out there that cares about you, loves you and is there for you. Can’t reach anyone at all? Feel free to email me and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. We’re in this together!
Stay connected, but not too connected. When you’re feeling homesick, it can be tempting to call your mum every day for a month. YOU MUST RESIST. It’s great to talk to your parents or family at home that you miss, but talking to them every day isn’t going to help with your homesickness; it’s likely to do the opposite. Schedule a weekly call, and any more than that is an added bonus. It sounds hard, but you need to live your life and live in the moment in your new surroundings, which is near impossible when you’re holding on to the lives and stories of people on the other side of the world.
Become a local. It’s great to play tourist, but if you’ve moved abroad there will be a time when you’re no longer viably a tourist. You’ll know the backstreets, where the best coffee is and which tube stations don’t smell like someone died in them. Why not fast-track the process and get out there now? Spend your weekends exploring your surroundings, discovering new places and making new friends.
Plan a trip with friends from home. Just as you’ll make new friends wherever you are, it’s important to remember your friends from back home. It can be hard to say goodbye to your best friends (Dana, Aaron, Paige; I MISS YOU!), but knowing there’s a date to see them again can help to relieve guilt from long breaks from not communicating. Plan a trip where you’ll be reunited, and it will feel like you never left at all when you see them.
Create a routine. Something that reminds a lot of people of ‘home’ is having a solid routine. Whether it means getting up at 6am for the gym every morning or streaming the Bachelorette from home, do it. Routine makes people feel organized, and feeling organized means you won’t get homesick as you’ll be too distracted with your day-to-day monotonous tasks.
Think back to the beginning. Why are you feeling homesick? Because you’ve left everything behind and started the journey of a lifetime. Why live an average life when you could live an extraordinary one? Whenever I feel a little down or miss home, I simply remember how fricken incredible it is to be living on the opposite side of the world. Like all good things, this too shall pass… so take advantage of it while you can!
It’s funny, whether you go back home in a month, a year or 5 years, you’ll find that barely anything has changed. Everyone is still working in similar jobs, dating the same people and sharing the same group of friends. You? Well you, my friend, will come back a completely different person with a unique outlook on life.
P.S if I'd never left home, I never would have had the opportunity to do what I'm doing in these photos! Go on, get out there x