The winter blues are just around the corner, and when living abroad, this can hit you hard. Staying in can feel so much more comfy than having new experiences.
Personally, I get homesickness around this time, as for me, the holidays are meant to be spent with family and friends.
I believe that this homesickness arises from two factors:
- Boredom with your day to day
- Lack of connection with your surroundings
First off, there is nothing wrong with either of these feelings, and there is nothing wrong with homesickness. It is 100% understandable, normal, and shared among many people, especially when the holidays are on the horizon. But these two factors together can result in some serious questions and self-doubt like, “Is it worth it to live here?”
So, I wanted to make this guide to help those abroad who are experiencing these feelings, as I know I did at some point. Below you’ll find 6 easy ways to step out of your homesickness.
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This guide will have specific references to my life in Paris, but are near universal and can be applied anywhere you live:
- Eat Something From Your Home Country
- Find a Sporting Event Related to Your Home
- Specialty Shops or Restaurants With Your Home’s Delicacies
- Get Out of the City
- Trying Out New or Old Hobbies
- Get a Fun Exercise Routine
1. Eat Something From Your Home Country
When the homesickness blues kick in, one of the first things you might miss is the taste of home. It’s not just about the cuisine itself; it’s the memories and comfort that come with it. The way your mom used to make your favorite dish, the aroma that would waft through your kitchen, or the late-night food adventures with friends. Fortunately, wherever you are in the world, there’s a good chance you can find a little slice of home at a supermarket.
As an American, we are privileged with very basic food, admit it.
One of my priorities was to establish an understanding of the markets in my neighborhood, and go to the one that sold Peanut Butter. In Paris, there is a plethora of selections of jam and jelly. And need I go into their bread?
A butter grilled PB and J, or an open-faced peanut butter and banana tartine were quick and easy comfort for the days that I needed a little bit of motivation to explore.
So my three step process is the following:
- Step 1: Find a Supplier
- Step 2: Make it part of your routine
- Step 3: Share with others
One of the joys of doing this, is you’ll build connection through your local specialties. Offering a dish to someone who may have never tried it is quite a fun time, especially if it throws them for a surprise.
You can find more info on where to find Peanut Butter in Paris, in this guide.
2. Find a Sporting Event or Concert Related to Your Home
Another way to tackle homesickness is by reconnecting with the passions and hobbies from home. Whether you’re a die-hard football fan, a rock aficionado, or a salsa dancer, there’s a good chance that there are local events related to your interests.
In Paris, I’d try to frequent concerts of American artists. It was a way to reconnect with the sounds of home and also meet others who were interested in them.
The adrenaline rush you’ll get from attending such an event can be a fantastic way to distract yourself from feeling homesick. Plus, you might make new friends who share your interests, and bonding over a live game or concert can be a great way to feel connected to your culture.
Fall and Winter both benefit from having live Football and Basketball. In Paris, I made it a priority to add that into my schedule every Sunday night. The bars normally host large groups of anglophones and you can usually chum it up with them about how their favorite team is garbage.
For more information on where to watch Football, you can check out this guide.
3. Specialty Shops or Restaurants With Your Home’s Delicacies
Craving a taste of home but can’t quite replicate your grandmother’s secret recipe? Don’t worry; there’s another way to satisfy your cravings. Seek out specialty shops or restaurants that import and serve your home country’s delicacies. These gems can be your sanctuary when you’re feeling down and in need of some comfort food.
The Home and Away Format with Friends
In Paris, I had a good Korean buddy who was familiar with the U.S. as he’d lived in Boston for a few years. We came up with the home and away format. This means, we’d plan catch-ups around one meal at a specialty from his home, and then one meal around a specialty from my home.
So, I’d introduce him to a food like American Bbq, and then, the next time we’d go to Korean Bbq.
This format allows you to establish one on one connections, get a slice of home, and experience another culture.
4. Get Out of the City
Sometimes, the hustle and bustle of the city can exacerbate homesickness. You feel like you are sacrificing that wellness time for busy work or tasks that keep pressing on that button, “Is it worth it to live here?”
The fast-paced lifestyle may leave you feeling disconnected from the natural world and the simple image that we have of home.
Escaping the city for a weekend can be a great way to reset, and return with a beginner’s mindset.
Explore the surrounding countryside, go for a hike in the nearby mountains, or head to the beach for some relaxation. Nature has a way of calming the soul. You might even discover some local spots that become your new secret getaways. Whether it’s a quiet park or a serene lake, these places can become your personal retreats when you need a break from the city.
It may be more pricey than the other options, but I guarantee that this will break you out of homesickness for a moment, and rekindle the excitement of living in a foreign country.
5. Trying Out New or Old Hobbies
Sometimes, homesickness can be a signal that our day to day’s seem empty and unrewarding. Think about the hobbies and activities you loved back home, and see if there are local opportunities to dive back in.
I was a high school tennis star (this means I could get a serve in, that’s it). In Europe, tennis is much more popular, and I found that most people I asked had also played in the past and were looking to get back into it.
Setting up bi-weekly matches with friends or even signing up for groups on Facebook brought a lot of meaning and a refound passion in my schedule.
Did you used to play the guitar but left it collecting dust in your new apartment? Well, it’s time to dust it off and strum a tune or two. Were you a budding artist back home? Find a local art class and let your creativity flow.
Exploring new hobbies can be a fantastic way to divert your focus from homesickness. Consider signing up for a cooking class, learning a new language, or trying your hand at a local craft. It’s a great way to meet new people and immerse yourself in the culture of your host country.
6. Get a Fun Exercise Routine
Exercise isn’t just about staying fit, and I know it can seem like the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling down. But it’s a powerful tool for battling homesickness.
Engaging in regular physical activity releases endorphins, natural mood lifters. It can help you overcome the feelings of sadness and loneliness that often accompany homesickness.
Most importantly, the routine is the vital part of exercise. As we’ve discussed in all of these tips, healthy routines are essential to feeling like you have purpose in a foreign country. This purpose is the antidote against homesickness.
So, look for local fitness classes or sports clubs to join. Whether it’s a yoga class, rock-climbing, or a CrossFit gym, there are numerous opportunities to stay active, make it engaging, and create new connections in the process.
Exercise can provide structure to your day, give you a sense of accomplishment, and boost your overall well-being.
Homesickness is a perfectly normal emotion when living abroad, but it doesn’t have to take over your life. These six easy ways to combat homesickness can help you reconnect with your roots, discover new passions, and create a vibrant, fulfilling life in your new home.
Remember, it’s all about balance and routines – feeling purpose and knowing that the future is fullfilling can go a long way in subverting negative thoughts into positive ones.