We know that moving and living in another country, perhaps to work as an ex-pat, can offer great experiences and opportunities to grow both personally and professionally. Without a doubt, getting to know a new country can be really exciting; however, we cannot fail to mention the possible culture shock and difficulties that may be encountered along the way.
Adjusting to a life away from home and loved ones can lead to a strong sense of homesickness, which is quite common among ex-pats, and an important factor when considering repatriation or coming home. Fortunately, aside from trying to engage with a good attitude, there are small things you can do to lessen and avoid this homesickness.
Follow our tips below to get more out of your experience living abroad and cope with the common feeling of missing your country and home:
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Welcome a different routine and life, physically and mentally, in the new country. To adjust to a different lifestyle and avoid mentally staying in your old home, try to make your new one a place where you feel comfortable and familiar.
Living your present in another country does not mean that you should lose your customs or contact with your nation and home of origin, but idealizing it can prevent you from seeing the opportunities that lie ahead. Go in and try to get excited about a new routine, creating it and adding activities that you like!
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Identify and admit your feelings, it even helps to talk about them. Even being excited about the new adventure, it is normal to say goodbye to your loved ones and feel that you are losing something. To treat and face nostalgia, it is necessary to know how to analyze, identify and recognize for yourself what you are feeling. This can help you better understand the root of your emotions (such as missing your family, loneliness, or work stress) and look for possible solutions.
Remember that talking about your worries and feelings can help you, whether it’s with a new friend, a distant family member, or another ex-pat who understands what you’re going through.
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Do exercise! Take care of yourself physically and mentally. It’s easy to fall into unhealthy habits being away from your old routine and home. That is why you should focus on doing activities that you like and exercising, from walking and running in parks and playing sports, to trying meditation or yoga.
Exercise is an excellent strategy to reduce nostalgia not only because it works as a distraction, but also because it releases endorphins, taking care of your physical and mental health.
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Fill your days with things you love to do. Being abroad invites you to try new things, but you should not neglect what you know and love to do. In any part of the world, you can find how and where to do the activities that you like and that gives you the feeling of being at home. From painting or cooking classes, strolling through a museum, learning photography, or simply choosing a park to walk to; dedicating the time it deserves to your well-being will make you focus on the positive.
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It is important to try to meet new people and make friends! It is proven that the human being is happier if he surrounds himself with relationships and affective ties, that is why it is so important to continue making friends. Trying different activities, from sports to chess, can also help you meet new people.
Another very good option is to investigate the expatriate communities or groups that exist in your environment, that is, people from whom you can support yourself since they are going through or have gone through the same or a very similar situation.
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Use technology moderately, and do not live on social networks! Nowadays, and thanks to technology, you can be in constant contact with your friends and family anytime, anywhere. Although it is necessary to maintain your relationships and talk to your loved ones, excessive use of social networks can affect you and make you feel that you are missing something in your old home. That is why it is important to be aware of the time you invest in the networks. Try to spend more time learning and accumulating new experiences!
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Don’t walk away from your loved ones either, plan the next trip home! Although excessive time on social networks can increase the feeling of nostalgia, technology makes it easier for you to keep in touch with friends and family, the people who can give you the most support while living abroad. Likewise, returning to your country with your loved ones can be of great help during your long-term ex-pat experience; so, if possible, try to travel home during important dates, birthdays, or holidays.
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Finally, Explore and collect new experiences! Whether you have been living as an ex-pat for a few weeks or years, homesickness can be present for a while or even months. Don’t let that stop you from seeing this experience for the opportunity that it is.
Exploring the culture and getting to know the surroundings of the city and its main attractions can lift you up and gradually reduce negative emotions. As an expatriate, writing can help you express, reflect and share your experiences, it can even support those who are thinking of taking the same path.
The beginning can be difficult, but it is normal! Remember that your move as an ex-pat can bring you great experiences, both personal and professional, and there will always be ways to overcome homesickness during your time abroad.