Being home sick is one of the toughest obstacles a person overseas encounters. Working in a foreign land may sound exciting and interesting, as it poses a lot of different opportunities. It may be career advancement, financial fulfillment or new cultural engagement, just to name a few. But no matter how motivated and satisfied we are in what we do and where we are, there are still days when we miss our families and friends, our food and even our own customs and traditions. These are just some of the instances where homesickness sinks in.
At this point, you have probably recognized that there is a sense of longing that is lingering deep within yourself. Being homesick is a normal phenomenon for expatriates and there is nothing to be ashamed about it. Some simple strategies can come in useful whenever homesickness comes knocking in your door.
Admit that you are home sick
Like what I have said, it (homesickness) is a natural occurrence in the daily lives of expatriates who work abroad. Only you can acknowledge it and from that point, you can identify actions and take necessary steps to overcome it.
Keep in touch
With the advent of emailing, video-calling and chatting, your family and friends seem like just a step away. You don’t have to wait for weeks for the mailman to drop by, plus these are free and convenient. Programs such as Facebook, Skype and Yahoo Messenger make it easy for people to communicate face-to-face, only with a webcam and computer (or even a camera cellphone) and a good internet connection. If difference in time zones is a problem, set a specific time wherein both schedules will meet halfway. If this is not possible, try scheduling it during weekends or off-days so that you have the whole day to speak with them.
Being in another country doesn’t mean that you cannot do the hobbies and routines you usually do back home. Miss watching that drama show in the evening? Catch the episodes uploaded online. Miss cultivating the soil and watering the plants? Start a garden project. Miss running in the park after a hard day’s work? Put on those running shoes and go. Simple things that you used to do are a part of who you are and a reflection of where you came from. Accomplishing these things can bring a sense of fulfillment in yourself. You don’t have to let go. Anything that makes or made you happy, start doing or redoing it.
The easiest way to get through someone else’s heart is through food. So whenever homesickness strikes, the comforts a food can bring can never go wrong. Why not next grocery shopping, pick the ingredients and whip up your favorite home-cooked meal? The familiar sight, smell and taste of your favorite food that your mom or spouse used to cook for you might just be the solution to your longing heart and stomach.
Write or blog it
Writing is one of the best ways to express what you feel. Aside from the cathartic effect it can give to a person, it can also serve as a creative outlet of one’s loneliness and longing. Try writing a journal about your experiences working abroad. If you want to take it to the next level, give blogging a try. There may also be other expatriates in other countries who may read your blog and relate to your situation. These people may be another potential source of emotional support.
Break a sweat
Nothing beats the trick of a good old workout to brighten up your mood. Exercising is proven to help in the release of a chemical in your body called “endorphin” which helps in boosting one’s mood and lowering the occurrences of depression. A challenging weight training at the gym, a breezy jog in the park or even a short game of basketball with your colleagues after work can help you break a sweat.
Widen the circle
One of the very important things to establish in every aspect of life is good relationships with people. Whether workmates, neighbors or even someone who is a total stranger to you can help you widen your social circle. These people will serve as your companions while working in a foreign place without your family and friends to be with you. They may also serve as listeners to your issues of homesickness, as well as opening new cultural opportunities to try out.
Homesickness is not an easy battle to overcome and it is not always a negative thing for expatriates who work abroad. In one way or another, it may also mean that there are people, places and events worth missing and remembering while you are away.