If you were looking forward to working and living abroad, homesickness as an expat can come as a surprise. But it is not uncommon. If you have only recently moved abroad to work, it can make settling into a new country much more difficult. For many expats, homesickness is even thought to be a contributory factor in their decision to repatriate.
Thankfully, Allianz Care has developed several steps you can take to help deal with any feelings of homesickness you may be experiencing without making the drastic decision to return home:
1. Live in your new home mentally
Language matters. If you still refer to the place you live abroad as ‘the apartment’, then chances are you have yet to fully settle in. Bring as many comforts from your last home as you can, so your expat accommodation feels familiar. Then, try calling it ‘home’. Although it may not feel like it at first, in time it should.
Read more: Things Expats Should Do When They are Considering Moving Back Home
2. Acknowledge your feelings
A useful way to deal with homesickness as an expat is to acknowledge your feelings. Engage in some self-reflection – journaling can really help with this. Think or write about why you are feeling homesick. The root cause may be:
- Missing friends and family
- Stress or anxiety
It may well be a combination of all three. Once you have worked that out, think about ways you can alleviate those feelings – maybe join a local yoga class, a sports team, or arrange a visit home.
3. Meet new people
Although it may seem overwhelming at first, meeting new people in your new home will help deal with homesickness. There are the obvious options like joining a sports team or taking a class, but what if you are too busy to commit to either?
There are other options, such as joining one of the many expat forums or expat groups, where you can meet other expats and locals on an ad-hoc basis for activities as varied as chess and skydiving.
4. Use technology… but not too much
Technology, while working as an expat abroad, can be your best friend or worst enemy when it comes to settling in. It is a brilliant way to stay in touch with family and friends at home on a regular basis, but social media can make you feel more aware of what you are ‘missing out on’ too. Nights out, birthdays, and family reunions can be hard to watch from a distance.
It is important to remember that social media is a highlights reel of life and you may not be missing out on as much as you think.
5. Plan trips home
Getting home to see family and friends in person is crucial to the long-term success of the expat experience. Try and book trips home at regular intervals. Or at least for the most crucial occasions, like religious holidays or milestone birthdays.
Read more: How to Deal with Reverse Culture Shock
6. Take care of yourself
When you first move to a new country and don’t really know anyone, it can be very easy to slip into unhealthy routines. Staying at home every evening and watching TV can be nice in the short term, but after a few weeks it is likely to have an impact on both your physical and mental health.
Reduce your chances of having to deal with homesickness through exercise. The endorphins will help keep feelings of homesickness at bay.
If you find yourself struggling with feelings of homesickness, it may help to talk to someone. Allianz Care expat health insurance plans include an Expat Assistance Program, which provides a confidential and professional 24/7 multilingual support service that can help expats and dependents address a wide range of life issues and challenges.
How do you deal with homesickness?
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18 thoughts on “How to Deal with Homesickness as an Expat”
Me myself as an expat sometimes experiencing depression specially during summer weather here in the middle east wherein you need stay at home the whole as it is very hot outside and when you ask your friends to hangout at night they always refuse coz even in the evening it is so humid. Those tips mentioned on the article are for sure helpful to others depends who are working abroad except in the middle east. You might also be interested to write an article how to deal with homesickness while living somewhere in the middle east. I would be interested to share some information you may need based on my experience living in Qatar for 5 years.
I think the balance of technology use is key!! Its great to keep in touch with loved ones but it is so important to embrace your new community
This is so true. Homesickness is one of the hardest to deal with. Great tips you got here.
wow, I needed to read this. I am one of those who wants to get out and as soon as I am out, i am homesick lol
This is really relevant since I am an expat in Germany. Being aware of own feelings is really important to fight off any unwanted emotions before it gets worse. 🙂
This is a real issue that hits unexpectedly! Thanks for highlighting this and helping provide tips on how to deal with it.
Great tips for those who suffer from homesickness. I live near my family, so its not a feeling I experience often, but I can certainly understand it.
I travel frequently and don’t really suffer from homesickness, but this is a good way to deal with it for those who are away for longer periods of time. Thanks for sharing.
I haven’t tried living outside of the country but during my long trips (20+ days) I already feel homesick but I try to stay connected whenever I’m in my apartment, thank God for Viber! I agree, meeting new friends is another way to combat being homesick. I usually travel solo and sometimes it can get a little boring to be honest. Thank you for these helpful tips!
I’m really a homesickness person. This is really great advice thanks for sharing
That post brings me back years ago when I moved to the US. It was hard to start over, make new friends, learn a new language. All of these are great memories of determination and adaption.
Great advice! I have always lived near family and friends so have been lucky enough not to worry about this. But I know a lot of people who do.
I am really not a homesickness person but yes sometimes you feel to go back home and do nothing …I loved the tips you shared for those moments!!
I have been an expat for almost 10 years now and whilst I adapted very well to my first country, I struggle with the second one. The thing that I mostly find difficult is making friends, especially in a country in which I don’t speak the language.
Thank God I haven’t experienced this yet. Great tips by the way.
I never really experienced homesickness a lot when I first moved to Japan and soon after. I moved a lot when I was a kid because my dad was in the military. Maybe because of that, I am able to adjust to locations well.
When we were living in the UK for my dad’s beief assignment, I was severely homesick. I didn’t want to be away from my friends and I felt quite alien in the UK.
In 1997 the internet was not really available in al households but I exhausted all opportunities to connect with friends. I wrote lots of letters and everytime the postman arrived I hoped that he was carrying a letter for me.
It really helped to have friends locally. I had to make London my home, even temporarily. Otherwise it would always be sad.
Great advice!! I am not so much homesick but I miss my dogs when we go on vacation!!!