• Milestones

How to deal with homesickness

Moving to a new country can be an exciting time and open up amazing experiences but it can also be a very challenging time, especially if it’s your first time away from home.

There are many factors that can contribute to homesickness: feeling isolated from loved ones, getting used to a new language and culture, feeling that you don’t have control over your life.

People who suffer from homesickness may become very critical of the new country or culture and compare everything to ‘back home’. They may also develop a type of depression called “adjustment disorder’.

But with some effort, it is possible to get over homesickness and see things in a positive light. Here are a few tips:

1. Make a ‘TO DO’ list.

Research all the interesting places to visit in your new country and all the exciting things you can do there. For example, in Australia you must visit Ayer’s Rock / Uluru and The Great Barrier Reef. You can hug a Koala and go scuba diving. Make a list of all these things and try to tick them off before you leave.

2. Make your house a home.

Spend a little time and money to make your accommodation a place that you look forward to going back to each day. Make your apartment feel like a second home by personalising it and making it a comfortable safe space.

3. Get a friend from home to visit you.

Persuade a friend from back home to come a visit you. Then you can explore your new country together and create wonderful memories of your new home. That way you will focus less on all the things you miss from your country and will concentrate more on the exciting things you can show your friend in your new country.

4. Not everything needs to change.

You don’t need to change your lifestyle when you move to a new country. If you had a hobby back home, there’s no need to give it up. For example, if you were in a running club, did a Pilates class or a singing group back home, you can still do all these things in your new town, and make friends at the same time.

5. Create new habits and routines.

Moving to a new country is a great opportunity to create new routines. Melbourne is famous for its cafes so why not find your favourite one and meet friends for breakfast there each Sunday? Or perhaps you can spend each Saturday morning shopping for groceries at your local market.

6. Have some ‘alone time’.

Take a break from the world. Download a meditation or mindfulness audio and spend 30 minutes each day in a state of relaxation. This will help you with ‘positive thinking’. Especially if you think of three things you are grateful for each day.

7. Learn a new skill.

Take this time as an opportunity to learn something new. You could learn how to ski or take a dance class. Learn how to cook or scuba dive. The possibilities are endless.

8. Keep a travel journal or diary.

Write about all the exciting moments and great adventures you have while you’re living abroad. Also write about all the funny things that happen to you. Keep it as a book for positive moments and you will create a great souvenir for when you go back home. Also, the next time you’re feeling sad, it will help you remember all the good times you’ve had.

9. Make friends.

I know that this is easier said than done. And it takes effort. But once you connect to one new friend in your new home, a lot of new social networks will open up to you.

Although you shouldn’t just make friends with people from your own country, it’s good to have contact with people from back home. In that way you will have someone to talk to who knows what you are going through and who you can talk to when you’re having a tough time.

But take every opportunity to make friends with people from the new country and even from other countries and cultures. This is a great opportunity to connect with people from different places. As they say, “travel broadens the mind”.

10. Talk to someone.

Don’t keep your feelings inside. Speak to someone. Other international students will be feeling exactly the same as you and can be a shoulder to cry on. Your school may have a student counsellor who you can speak to. Or they may be able to refer you to a counsellor who speaks your language.

Just remember that homesickness is completely normal but there is no reason why you can’t deal with it and enjoy your time in your new home.