Moving Abroad: Dealing with Feeling Homesick

Feeling Homesick

Being homesick is personal and it can be hard to talk about. But I think it’s important to share that everyone can feel homesick at some point. You may say: you lived abroad for years, you must not feel homesick too much! Haha, right!

Feeling Homesick is Normal

I like to think I am strong, well… most of the time. After 7 years of living away from home, I know a good share of feeling homesick.

When you move abroad, you may go through several stages: at first you feel excited about everything new that’s happening in your life, but it’s not going to stay new forever.

Here are a some symptoms you may be feeling when you are moving away from home.  

If you are thinking about moving or studying abroad soon, you will find some of these resources useful:

Symptoms of Homesickness – Signs of Being Homesick

Symptoms of feeling homesick signs

You don’t have to be abroad to miss home. You can be just moving to college or to a different state for a job. If you feel anxious, sad or nervous, and more importantly, have constant thoughts of home, you probably are feeling homesick. You may be craving the food that you used to eat a lot or missing your friends and family.

Remember that it’s normal to feel homesick for a while, and for some people, like me, it never really goes away. When homesickness is really bad, it may be even hard to eat, sleep or interact with others. That’s terribly rare, but it can happen.

Who is More Likely to Feel Homesick

You are More Likely to Feel Homesick If It’s Your First Time Away From Home

If it’s your first time away from home or from your friends and family, you might be more likely to feel alone. Having no experience of being on your own, try to acknowledge that you are feeling lonely and look for the ways to find someone who might help. If you think you might be feeling homesick, look at my recommendations below about how you can deal with it.

You May Feel Lonely When You are Facing Difficulties or Bad Experiences

If things go wrong or you have a bad first impression of the new place, you might start feeling homesick even more. For me, I often miss home a lot when I am physically sick or if have problems in school. Facing problems is harder when you are alone with no social support. If you feel pressure or high demands (academic, job or sports performance) – these obstacles may make you feel even more alone. If you are having difficulties at work or school, please ask someone for help. Having to deal with that on your own and failing to do so can escalate things really quickly! But, if you accomplish or overcome a problem, it will make your homesickness feel better!

On the other hand, if you just moved to the new place and you really dislike it, you may feel like you want to leave right away. One of my friends didn’t like the new place she moved to and her phone was stolen during the first week. That situation made her move back home in an instant. If you got a bad impression of your new place, try to understand why do you feel that way. If the new place is actually dangerous, you should look for something different. But, if you just miss home and are not used to being on your own, try to get through it. Look for ways to take your mind off of being alone, meet new people or do something you would normally do back home. Or, do something you have never done, new experiences may make you feel a lot better.

Strong Bonds with Family and Friends Back Home

If you have strong relationships with your family back home or never actually wanted to leave, you may be feeling anxious or depressed before you left. You might be constantly thinking, “I wish I wasn’t here right now” or constantly comparing your new situation with the way it used to be. Once again, try to understand what is making you feel this way. Always make future plans to go visit or plans to return again soon.

How to Deal with Feeling Homesick

How to deal with Feeling Homesick

The most effective way of coping with homesickness is understanding that this is what you are feeling. Then, try to think of the ways you would cope with your problems if you were at home. If you are facing some problems in school or work, try to solve the problems. Also look for ways to adjust to the new circumstances. Feeling homesick may be coming back (it does for me) so you learn with experience on which ways of coping work best for you. Some of these tips should help you when you are feeling homesick.

  • Do something fun to forget about being homesick
  • Cook food you would normally eat at home
  • Try to focus on short-term goals
  • Think positively
  • Renew a connection with home, call your friends and family, see how is everything to feel closer to home
  • Talk with someone around you who could provide support and help you make new friends
  • Go on a little trip or explore a new place in your new city

What to Not Do When You Are Feeling Homesick

Sometimes, people will try to come home before they were supposed to or break rules (in case of study abroad) in order to be sent home. These ways of coping are rarely effective and can produce unintended negative side effects. Remember, feeling homesick shouldn’t be the reason for you to go back. If you left in the first place, that means you had a goal and you were looking for change. Don’t give up now, try to make friends in your new environment and make short-term goals to achieve some bigger accomplishments.

How Can You Help Someone Who Is Feeling Homesick

If you know someone who is feeling homesick, try to help them. See if they have any problems that you would be able to help with. Sometimes just being close and listening can help a lot. Try to learn more about your friend’s culture and family. This will make the person who is homesick feel less alone and it can go a long way.  

Homesickness Myths Broken

Despite the way it’s coined, homesickness isn’t necessarily about missing home. Also, homesickness is not an illness. Feeling homesick comes from basic need for love, protection and security — feelings and qualities usually associated with home. If you don’t feel loved or protected, you start missing the time and place when you did, so the time you were at home.

My Personal Experience

My personal experience with Feeling Homesick

For me, feeling homesick still sometimes comes as a feeling like I am home. Not just a general feeling, I remember a particular moment, a taste or a feeling that I had when I lived in Russia. Something that didn’t seem important at the time, those feelings just come back unexpectedly. And it’s ok! While it makes me feel sad, I don’t want to forget those feelings, I try to hold on to them.

How Do I Deal With Feeling Homesick

I deal with my homesickness by introducing people to things I used to enjoy when I was back home. I know, it could be annoying, but I know many of my friends had experienced the Russian salads along with a Russian movie many times. Sorry you’all, that is probably how I deal with feeling homesick! Living abroad comes with many fun memories, but it also comes with feeling disconnected from everyone else around you. People from another country didn’t grow up watching the movies you did or going to the similar school. It makes me feel relieved being able to share my culture and my Russian life with others. That’s one of the reasons I like it when people ask me about my country, my language or my culture. 

Read more about my experience of moving to another country and living abroad here! Have you ever experienced feeling homesick? What helps you feel better? Let me know in the comments!

Hi, I'm Marina, passionate traveler and blogger, based in the United States and travelling the world. Thanks for following me on my life and travel adventures!

3 Comments

  1. Leah
    November 15, 2018

    Thanks for posting this! I have considered moving abroad, but homesickness sounds so scary!

    Reply
  2. Donna | The Upward Blip
    November 15, 2018

    Hi Marina! I can totally relate… I am working abroad now. It has been over 6 years since I started and it has been a roller coaster ride. On my first birthday abroad, I broke down… I thought I was strong enough, but I guess not. Thank you for the post!

    Reply
  3. Kayla
    November 15, 2018

    Thanks for your great tips! I think the one about having bad first experiences is especially true and it’s so frustrating to be homesick when you’re in a new place to explore.

    Reply

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