“Homesick is a type of sick”
– Sheldon Cooper
Homesickness can be a strange thing. It’s an overwhelming urge for the familiar. Yet given the choice to turn around and come home, most still trudge on toward the foreign and and strange.
There’s no shame in feeling homesick. It means you come from a happy home. As my childhood friend Pooh said: “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
Count your blessings if you feel homesick. It means you’ve taken a step that many cannot take, and in years to come only memories of fun and adventure will remain, and feelings of loneliness and longing will be long forgotten.
Here are some tips I’ve used over the years to deal with homesickness while in college, on J1s and working away from home:
EASE YOURSELF INTO THE PROCESS
Moving away from home can be stressful enough without jumping into furnishing an apartment, organising bills or finding a job. Before you begin to settle in, act the tourist first. Treat your first few days/weeks like a holiday and visit all the tourist attractions. Get to know the local people and familiarise yourself with their accents and mannerisms. Relax, have fun, get some drinks into you and let the idea sink in gradually that you’re no longer at home.
From personal experience, I know staying active is a must for a healthy mental state. As we all know, exercise releases endorphins which trigger positive feelings in the body. Not only will you benefit from the feel-good vibes of exercise, but getting out for a walk or run will make you more familiar with your surroundings and as my mum always says “bitta fresh air will do you good!”. On the other hand, joining your local gym will give you a chance to meet new people.
As I mentioned previously joining a gym is a great way to meet people. The key to getting involved is consistency. Join a group or club that meet regularly to build bonds with people. GAA teams are dotted all over the world and are a great way to combat missing home. It doesn’t have to be a sports club you join. There are plenty of cultural clubs all over cities that love to welcome new members. For example the Irish in Sydney are a great community who meet regularly to discuss and organise events like St Patrick’s Day upcoming elections at home.
KEEP IN TOUCH
It’s easy to say we’ll stay in touch with people when we move away from home, but as we know life goes on and people are busy. Set up a designated chat group with your friends from home (Facebook, Whatsapp, Viber, etc.) and ask them to regularly fill it with pictures from home for you. Whether is a walk on your local beach, nights out, or big events from home, ask them to keep you involved and in the know, no matter how big or small. It’s nice to limit the amount of times you check the group, so when you sit down at the end of a long week, you’ve a nice little collection of personal photos from your friends to view.
You probably think I’m going to say join every social media imaginable to stay in touch. However, when I was in America I broke my iPhone (long story short it had a rough meeting with a can of Four Loco), and with no laptop I was limited to social media interactions. It stopped my obsessing over what friends and others were doing at home and let me get on with my own life. Also, I shared very little of my time away online and kept a journal instead. At the end of the summer our group got together and read out memories from my diary, the laughter from that night is something I’ll never ever forget!
REMIND YOURSELF WHY YOU’RE THERE
A great piece of advice I got off a girl who works on a cruise ship was, if I ever feel homesick, do something that reminds me exactly why I am there. In other words, I left home to gain some life experience and witness things I wouldn’t be able to see at home. So if I got a sudden bout of homesickness, I’ll walk outside, soak up some sunshine and go for a swim or walk.
PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE
When I first started working in my job with the newspaper, I was shy and awkward and felt way out of my depth. All I wanted to do was leave and go home to my easier job where I wasn’t challenged. But I quickly realised you get out what you put in. I began to put myself out there more and talk to people. I joined in on social nights and trips and began to take small steps out of my comfort zone. You don’t need to be the life and soul of the party, but being out and involved will keep your mind off what you’re missing at home.
GIVE IT TIME
Finally, and most importantly, give it time. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t fall in love with your surroundings straight away. I moved to America for four months with a good friend a few years ago. When we arrived she met a huge group of her college mates and I immediately felt like the odd one out and incredibly awkward. I was disappointed with our accommodation and with my job. I was incredibly homesick. After a few days, I started to get to know people and explore our area. I quit my shitty job and found a better one and soon her friends became my friends. It’s all about your outlook on your situation, if you stay positive, good things will happen to you .