I think being homesick is inevitable when you move to a different country. I’ve been homesick here in France more times than I can remember. It strikes at inevitable times: the birthday of someone close to you at home, when you’re feeling ill or when you’ve got a pile of uni work which you only understand about half of. But it also hits you at the most unexpected times, like when you’re travelling somewhere new and exciting , or at least getting on with your everyday routine.
I’ve been in Grenoble for seven months now and sometimes it feels as alien as the first day I arrived. I was talking to Clare, one of my best friends here, and we realised that we’d both felt pretty homesick at times but hadn’t wanted to say anything to each other. The thing about moving abroad is that you have to start all over again in terms of friends so when things get really shit sometimes you don’t feel like you can talk to the people around you because you haven’t actually known them all that long. This is a catch 22 because you then end up talking to people at home and feeling even worse, wishing you were on a plane back there.
So here’s a list of some things you could try to beat homesickness:
1. Go into a shop that you also have at home. I went into lush the other day just to look at all the bath bombs that I recognise. It’s surprisingly comforting I promise.
2. Talk to someone in the same position as you. It’s helpful to talk to any friends who are also on their year abroad as they’re likely to understand what you’re going through.
3. If you can’t talk to anyone then write it down. It’s amazing how much easier it is to deal with how you feel when you can see it physically written down in front of you.
4. Have a day off. It’s ok to spend all day binge watching your favourite series instead of immersing yourself in the target language.
5. Make a bucket list of things you want to do in your year abroad destination before you go home. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut so this can help to remind you of all the great things there is to do where you are.
6. Go to your favourite coffee shop or anywhere that has become familiar in your new home.
7. Try not to idealise your life at home. I think we can all get stuck in the ‘grass is always greener’ mindset, especially with the increased physical distance when we are abroad.
8. Do something cultural even if your friends don’t want to.
9. Think about how far you’ve come in your target language and feel accomplished. Remember when you first arrived in France and you couldn’t understand much more than bonjour?
10. Send postcards as a more personal way of keeping in touch with people back home.