Overcoming Homesickness While Abroad Long-Term
Having spent the better part of the last six years overseas, I have become intimately aware of just how desperately homesick one can become while living abroad. Homesickness is a slow-rolling and subtle pain that eats away at you and can leave even the best of experiences feeling empty and pointless.
The truth is, it really doesn't matter where you are traveling. It also doesn't matter how long you plan to be away from home. Being homesick can happen to the most experienced of travelers at the most random of times.
Fortunately, there are several ways to combat the onslaught of blues associated with being far from home for an extended period of time. In this article, I will discuss some of the tricks I use when a serious case of homesickness kicks in.
If you plan on being out of the country for a while, I highly recommend using social media to stay connected to your family and friends back home. You may find that, depending on which country you are in, will determine which social media is most easily available.
On any given day, I may use WeChat to talk to my little brother in China, Telegram to talk to my fiancé in Russia, and Facebook to talk to my mom in America. Having the ability to use social media to keep in regular contact with your loved ones makes all the difference.
I highly recommend coming up with a weekly schedule of when you plan to talk to the people in your life that you miss most. That way, neither of you has to worry about potential time-zone differences.
Sometimes I find myself stuck in a hotel, following along to a workout on Youtube. Other times, a simple walk around the local park will suffice. But if you aren't getting enough exercise, you may discover that this can lead to feeling sorry for yourself and getting more homesick.
When we travel, we tend to think of ourselves as being on vacation. Eating lots of delicious, fatty foods and brushing off the workout routine we followed at home may seem fun at first but it can quickly lead to self-loathing and sadness.
It takes a bit more motivation to exercise while traveling, but I promise you that it helps. If possible, try to find a way to stay active that incorporates the local culture. In China, I discovered a love for Badminton. In Vietnam, I took up SCUBA-diving. Today, I'm going for a hike in the mountains of Albania.
Exercise doesn't have to feel like work if you get creative, and it will definitely help with your homesickness.
This is a big one! Eating in a foreign country is a lot of fun, but it's only a matter of time before you miss a particular meal that your parents cook or a specific candy found only in your home country.
My best advice for fighting this sense of longing is to prepare for it. Wherever I go, I bring along a few basics that remind me of home. Something as simple as a bottle of Tabasco sauce tucked into my luggage serves as a familiar comfort when I'm in a foreign country.
Unless you are completely off the grid, most country's grocery stores will offer some familiar items as well.
For example, I don't really drink Coca-Cola or eat Snickers candy bars when I'm in America. However, when I'm somewhere unfamiliar and missing home, these kinds of products are easy to find almost everywhere and give me a sense of connection to home.
Another trick is to come up with a familiar dish that you can easily cook while you are abroad. When I'm feeling especially homesick, I will cook a big American breakfast of bacon, eggs, and toast with jam. I have had little problem finding the necessary ingredients for this meal, regardless of what country I'm in, and it always makes me feel a little better about being away.
I must admit that I'm a bit of a movie nerd. Even though I'm rarely in The States long enough to actually go to a movie theater, I'm still able to keep up with the latest movies and television by using various streaming services. Websites like Netflix and Amazon Prime help me to feel connected by what's happening back home.
It's important to know that such websites might look a little different while traveling. Netflix, for example, will not allow you the same access to its content if you are overseas.
If you don't want your content to be limited, I suggest purchasing a monthly subscription for a VPN. VPN's have been a life saver for me while traveling, and we will devote an entire article to the subject in the near future.
There are, of course, countless other ways to combat the negative effects of homesickness. Above all, I think it's important to remind yourself that the great thing about home is that it will always be there waiting for you.
Living or traveling in a foreign country is something that not everyone has the ability or resources to experience. It's a gift and should be treated as such. If you start to feel homesick for the people and places you left behind, just remember that your time away from home is limited.
Try to push yourself to see and do everything that country has to offer, and I'm certain that any negative feelings of missing home will quickly melt away. Happy travels, everyone!
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