So, you finally arrived here in Australia. You are ready to be comfy on your new home, immerse yourself on the new culture, try all the Aussie food, and live your new life. It’s a brave new world out there!
And then two weeks later, boom! It hits you. You miss your old room. You miss grandma’s cooking. You miss the neighborhood. The sense of isolation and melancholy is getting the best of you. You want to go home. All these excitements of starting a new life now taking a backseat. You now want your old life back.
Homesickness has been plaguing people for ages, from European explorers to pilgrims to World War I and II soldiers to the modern expatriates and exchange students. It is an underrated and underestimated emotional condition that has drove people to desolation and breached contracts. And while going back home isn’t really an immediate possibility, there are ways to tide the longing and continue what you set out to do.
Homesickness isn’t necessarily missing home, but the habits and routines associated with it. Since you can’t go back to those anymore, creating new activities to revolve your daily life on will work just as fine. And no, we’re not discussing about you waking up, getting your coffee, and taking the drive to work. We’re talking about the extra things that give your otherwise conventional day into something extraordinary. It could be meeting a few friends after work, reading a good book on your favorite coffee shop, doing yoga, or a jog in the morning. These will provide distractions as you get immersed in your new life.
And speaking of jogging…
It is no secret that working out releases happy hormones in your body. This is perfect to combat depression commonly associated with homesickness. Also, being physically active keeps you away from bad eating which again, is a huge tendency of those experiencing stress and longingness.
So choose a physical activity that you like and stick with it. A morning jog, yoga sessions, weightlifting, or even playing your favorite sport (Australia’s obsession with sports is huge). It will strengthen your immune system, which means you will have more ammunition to fight off sickness while you adjust to a new atmosphere.
Also, by joining fitness clubs or workout classes, you will meet more people and have more friends, which lead us to…
Of a different family that is. It might the household on your shared apartment, or your coworker’s core relatives. Having them “adopt” you will get rid of any feelings of loneliness. Have them invite you to family functions, dinners, or parties. No, they will never replace your folks back at home, but they can provide a sense of belongingness which is way, way better than getting yourself drunk alone at home during Thanksgiving.
And since we’re on the topic of Thanksgiving …
Since your real family is away, there’s no way you can slice turkey with them. But you can celebrate it with your adoptive family! Treat them to a thanksgiving dinner (you may use chicken, turkey burgers, or other alternatives instead) once a year. Or, if you’re from the Philippines, celebrate Christmas Eve with a Chinese ham and leche flan with them on the table
This works on both ways. First, you will get a taste of home by sharing your traditions with other people. And second, your new family will have new experiences and new food to try. Win-win, if you’ll ask us.
If you think you are helping yourself by spending four hours a day on Skype keeping in touch with your family back home, you are wrong. This will only bolster the longing and homesickness. The same thing happens when you drown yourself in social media, constantly keeping in touch what your friends are having for lunch because you can’t afford to miss out.
You have an entire world to discover out there. Make new friends, try new foods, join groups, and learn new hobbies. You have a new home now. Know and enjoy it. Your relatives and buddies back home are going on with their daily lives, you should too on your end.
Homesickness doesn’t only make you spiral down into depression, but makes you absentminded as well. Counter this by acquiring new skills and hobbies such as learning a new language, attending cooking classes, learn painting or even martial arts. Doing so will keep your brain on foot, alert, and able to retain more information. Plus, it can get you occupied and helps you create a new network of friends.
No matter how much you feel alone about being homesick, the thing is, well, you are not alone. You are not the only one who had struggled to cope up with this dilemma. Actually, there is definitely someone in your workplace, group, or club going through the same thing. Reach out and find someone who you can open up about this. Better if that person had gone through the same thing.
You need to remember that it is OK to feel bad about it. It is OK to burst in tears once in a while. Ignoring it and pretending that such trouble isn’t happening will only make things worse. You lost productivity at work, become temperamental, or worst, become self-destructive. Opening up to a person or a group doesn’t hurt.
And speaking of which…
Expatriates, foreign students, and newly migrants, in a futile attempt to deaden negativity, engage themselves in unproductive behaviors that only hurt them more in the long run. They drown themselves in alcohol, they gamble, spend so much in shopping, do dangerous and illegal pursuits, and worst of all, they resort to substance abuse.
Such endeavors only numb the pain in a short time. When they get back to being sober or on their normal routines, the emotional trouble returns and then it becomes a viscous cycle. Remember that establishing connection with other people and focusing on your positive growth as a person are the things you need to concentrate on. If you feel complete and productive as a migrant, the waves of homesickness are easier to tide on.