Living abroad is harder than most people imagine. You not only change job or move house, you do that and more.
And the challenges keep on coming – from buying cars and other necessary possessions to picking schools for the kids and choosing the best neighbourhood to call home. You do all of this in a foreign land where everything is strange. And different.
What’s more, your family and friends are absent. Your support network is no longer present. You’re pretty much on your own – just you and your immediate family – and that’s the way it’s going to stay for the foreseeable future.
It’s no wonder that people moving abroad soon start to pine for the life they left behind.
They crave familiarity and the creature comforts from a previous life. They don’t recognise faces in the crowd and they can’t meet up with old mates at the pub. It can be hard to adjust in those early days and you will miss loved ones from home but there are things you can do to beat the homesickness blues. Here are four of them.
1. Take a positive approach
It can be too easy to take a negative approach to your new international life, particularly when things aren’t going well and the homesickness creeps in. But staying positive and knowing that, worst case, you can go back will make a difference. So chin up, head held high and look at the benefits of being where you are, rather than focusing on the negatives. It makes life pass more smoothly this way.
2. Keep yourself busy and meet new people
Head outside and explore your new environment. While it may feel vastly different to the town or village you left in the UK, look at the pluses around you. Are there opportunities to get away for the weekend to see incredible new sights? Interesting communities to check out? Any local clubs or organisations you could join to meet people and become part of the community? Meeting likeminded people with shared interests can help.
3. Embrace the differences
You no longer live in the UK. This is a fact. And your new home doesn’t, and shouldn’t, compare to the one you moved away from. This isn’t a bad thing because differences should be embraced. The food will be different, the supermarkets will feel odd, the way things are done in general won’t match what you’re familiar with. But this is why you moved – to try something extraordinary. So accept the differences and see them for the opportunities they are.
4. Stay in contact with family and friends
Recent years have seen massive improvements in technology so that distance has become less of a factor when keeping in touch with loved ones. FaceTime, Skype, faster Internet speeds and more accessible British television programming have made the fact you’re in a different country less of an issue. It’s important to take advantage of this and regularly talk to people about how you’re feeing, especially on those tougher days.
Homesickness is inevitable and it happens to us all. However, by following some of the steps above and accepting the ups and the downs, you’ll soon learn to step back and appreciate how lucky you are.
Russell is a British expat living on Sydney’s Northern Beaches where he writes about his search for a life less ordinary at www.insearchofalifelessordinary.com, one of Australia’s leading expat and travel blogs.