May 2012—Cha Jones
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Is there anyone feeling the “I miss home blues? “ If you are a newbie to expat living, then that can be expected. However, I would venture to say that even those of us with a few years of jet stream drifting behind our journeys can identify with the feeling as well.
Expat living can be exciting and challenging all wrapped up in a pretty little luggage. But as we all know, some of the best luggage can be misdirected from time to time, especially on an international flight! And if you are traveling solo thousands of miles away from home it can become very overwhelming and the adjustment may take some getting used to. So, here is some advice that I hope can assist you when you are having one of those, “Why the hell am I doing this again?” moments.
I would first like to say that being homesick doesn’t make you any less fit for the journey; it just means that you miss home. However, it’s not the time to pack your bags and return, but rather a good time for you to find comfort in searching your soul. Most likely when you are experiencing being homesick you are feeling the disconnection of your extension to your family, friends and familiar environment. But if you find ways to extend home into your new environment, then most likely this will ease your feelings of being homesick and you can get back to the business of expat living.
When the excitement has worn…
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It’s easy to be excited about the new trip or journey when you are preparing, but what happens when all the newness wears off and you are in your new environment wishing for the old? Well, it’s time to find some happiness right where you are. Maybe you meet some people who like to do some of the same things you like to do, or maybe you find another expat in your area who can at least understand being away from home. Look up www.meetup.com, it’s a great way to get connected to people in your area that have similar interest. I am sure there are other ways to meet expats and natives that share your interest, you just have to ask the Universe to send you signs (newspapers, commercials, or a little eavesdrop on a conversation), and you know Google is always your friend in times like this, too. Google knows you better than your mother, I’m just saying.
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One of the first things we miss about home are the people in our lives. You begin thinking back on what you use to do or you visit the calendar and realize you’re missing something that is going on at home, but the reality is you aren’t in Kansas anymore (or wherever you are from Dorothy).
First, stop making yourself miserable thinking about things that can’t be changed. If you miss the people that you adore back at home make time to video call them. It may require that you stay up later or get up earlier, but that is the price you pay to see the people that you love. If you are missing a big event at home such as a wedding or birth, then ask your family or friends to Skype you in, most places have wifi now days. You may have to think out the box and get the people at home to think out the box as well. However, I’m sure that you seeing the birth of you new niece or nephew will be worth all the hassle it took to Skype you in.
The next thing that makes people homesick is the lack of having things around them that give them a sense of familiarity. Maybe you miss driving your car, taking a bathtub, the ease of grocery shopping or going to a hair stylist. For me, it was a lack of having a normal (American) shower that made me miss home on a daily bases, but I learned to come up with a system to cope with my shower blues. However, something as simple as not having a bathtub or a normal shower can send you into emotional panic on that one day that you really wished you could be home. So, try to find something that can take the place of the thing you long for, that could be difficult, but it’s worth trying.
Now, you may not be able to replace something like a bathtub, but you can come up with a new way of using what you have and creating a whole new experience. If you want some familiar food, then you may have to find something that is totally different but made in the same or a similar way. Remember, you mostly likely moved abroad because you wanted to have a change, so take this time to do so and start creating a new experience.
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“When you can change the way you look at a thing, the thing you are looking at changes.” —Wayne Dyer
Sometimes we find ourselves homesick because we or attracting negative things into our lives through a negative outlook. We arrived on our new journey all excited and ready to take on the great experiences that came along with moving abroad. However, now we find ourselves homesick because we walked into a store with an, “I can’t find anything” attitude. How is that you can’t find anything when you are in a store with thousands of items? What you meant was, you can’t find anything that meets your requirements, but there are several things in the store for you to find if you change how you see things. I know how it feels to have an expectation, especially on the day when you woke up and wanted a nice American (or whatever your home country would be) style breakfast, and you have no means of actually making that happen. But look on the bright side; you can still have something wonderful to eat even if it’s not what you desire to have. Sometimes we make ourselves homesick when you think about or dwell on things that we can’t change, and all we have to do is change how we are perceiving things and the things we are experiencing changes.
The journey is to be traveled…
Don’t let being homesick ruin the journey. It’s normal and happens to the best of us, but the best way to fight through it is to find the excitement again and live there. Being homesick will come and go, and in time it happens less and less, especially when you get into a routine and find friends and extended family where you are. We all deal with our experiences of being homesick a little different, but remember that no matter what you are dealing with, “This too shall pass!” So, enjoy the journey and learn to be in the NOW of every experience, and home will start to look like the place you are in.
Other links to articles that may help: