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The Expat Blues: Our 5 tips for Tackling Homesickness

by Jason winley

You’ve done it. Made the big move your dream destination. Whether for love or money, you’ve decided that this new country is home for a little while. You’re just starting to get into your groove, when a nagging ache for home starts cramping your style. Before long, this feeling has grown, quickly spiralling into self-doubt. “Did I make the right decision?” “What am I doing here?” “Could I fly home this weekend?”

We have all been there. Short of flying halfway round the world just to smell the familiar air, BFSO recommends a few handy ways to tackle the Expat Blues.

Be a Tourist!

Explore your surroundings as though you’re on vacation. Sometimes, we can try so hard to create a “normal” life, that we forget it doesn’t have to be! Finding work, schools, gyms and supermarkets is just one half of really settling in. Seek out the spectacular – throw yourself into the experiences that your new town has to offer. Ask around! Chances are your neighbours will be happy to introduce you to nooks and crannies you’ve never explored. You might just fall in love with the place.

Taste of home

Create a little sanctuary of familiar things for when you feel far away. This might seem like the complete opposite to the last piece of advice, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with finding familiar ways to feel grounded. It could be as simple as a little photo collage of loved ones on the wall, a British TV subscription, or the contents of your food cupboard.

The locally baked flat bread may never be your thing, and that’s ok. Stick to crumpets, if that’s what you’d prefer! Being open minded about your environment is about giving everything a chance, but give yourself a break if you don’t always feel like roaming from what you know.

Send a gift home.

Skype and FaceTime are life-savers, giving us instant access to loved ones far away. Not to mention all the updates we get through Facebook and Instagram, letting us know everyone is ok. What would we do without them? Still, nothing quite measures up to the good old fashioned postal service.

There is something beautifully tangible about sending a gift or letter via mail. That cuddly toy could be in your hands this weekend, and in your niece’s cot by Wednesday. Gestures like these remind us that the world is small, after all.

Stop keeping up with everything at home!

Your mates are brunching at your favourite café, and you can taste the avo toast through the screen. You double tap the photo bitterly, and roll your eyes at the “wish you were here!” comments. You’re down with a serious case of envy. Your symptoms are being exacerbated by the glaring screens of social media.

Stay in touch, but until you’re settled – stop reaching for the phone! You’ll find yourself lamenting the conveniences you no longer have, or just the familiarity of accents you don’t have to strain to understand each day.

We know. It’s not easy. Look, if you must compare, at least remember that nostalgia is a rose-tinted lens. For each thing you miss about the UK, remember something you don’t. Is there less traffic where you live now? Better weather? Are people friendly?

Make some friends

The more you explore, the more likely you are to meet new people. As time goes on, you’ll find yourself connecting with all kinds of people you’d have never imagined come across. Give everyone a chance, even if they’re not your “usual” type of person. You might learn something new.

You might find that you feel homesick because you have dropped off an activity you used to do often before your big move. Did you used to practise yoga? Play tennis often? Were you into fine dining? Why stop now? Your hobbies are the best way to meet new people!

Go easy on yourself. Before long, you’ll probably stop calling the UK “home”, because you’ll be content to stay right where you are. Our loss!


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