After moving away from my hometown for college and then again for my internship abroad in the UK, I think I might know a little bit about homesickness now. This is different for everybody and highly depends on the circumstances, timing and your bonds with people around you.
Homesickness is the worst feeling I've ever had to feel and it was dramatically worse when I moved away from family for the very first time, even though I had anticipated the move and new beginning at college. I'm really close with my family so it was definitely hard for me to spend my first few weeks in a completely new town with no friends there that I knew from my old town. Neither had I known any of my college friends either because when I moved away, college hadn't started for two weeks. I moved away earlier so I could properly move and settle in before starting. So basically I spent the first two weeks in the new town on my own and not being much of a social or extroverted person, it was hard for me to get out to meet people. I only got out to see stuff and explore the town for myself.
But once I got back into my flat, I'd feel the deafening emptiness and I realized I was definitely, utterly on my own. And that needed time to sink in. The new responsibilities I now had overwhelmed me at first and being on my own most of the times
So now if you're feeling homesick and reading this, I want you to get some things out of this post. Here's how I deal and dealt with homesickness.
Explore your new surroundings
Go out to get to know your new surrounding, the new town and slowly get a feel for the town. Discover your favourite restaurants, your favourite area, the coffee shop you're most comfortable in, find a great park. Become an expat and make it a more comfortable place to be in yourself.
Know you're not alone
If you're starting out at college like I did, know that others in your class are most possibly feeling a bit homesick themselves and seeking to find a friend. Get to know people, try to be open and if needed, approach people. They won't bite, they're as new and clueless as you are.
Don't rely on Skype too much
Hear me out. Skype and social media are a great way to keep in contact and I couldn't imagine how secluded I would feel if there was no Skype or Whatsapp to use to talk to my family back home. But if used too much and too often, you won't get used to being on your own in your new town. The more you call them or videocall them, the more often you will miss them. Don't rely too much on keeping contact because you can catch up every other week or call if there's something important. Gradually you'll find that it's not too bad to be occupied in another way.
Make your new home "home"
My true home will always be my family's home-home but I find it to be extremely important to decorate your new flat or room in a way that it will make you feel really comfortable to be living there. That's why I have pictures of my family and friends, postcards, posters and a stuffed animal in my room. And I'd bring all of that anywhere if I were to be moving around a lot. Put effort into turning the totally new place into one that you will call "home" and mean it after a while.
Talk to others about how you're feeling
I thought it was embarrassing and weird at first but at one point I just told a newly made friend in college that I was feeling pretty down and homesick and they helped me by planning to go out more or going to those new courses or exploring town together. We spent a night together at my place and kept myself occupied and in company so I would slowly start to feel less lonely. Even if you don't really plan anything after telling someone, it definitely helps to hear their take on it. There's even meetups you can go to that are organised for newbies in town to exchange stories and meet up for a drink and just talk!
Have something to do, some places to be, some people to meet up with, some work to do. Being and staying occupied is so important on this one because you barely get the time or drive to think too much about missing home. This point is actually really crucial to me because I remember that having nothing to do before college when I had already moved to the new town two weeks prior, I was at my worst and missing my family a lot each day and feeling really lonely in general. So get yourself out there and say yes to going out with those new college friends.
Hang in there
The best thing to do now is wait it out. And know it will get better. Really, I'm not saying this as a filler. This is so simple and easier said than done but so true. This helped me here in London because I've gone through the worst homesickness already, I was able to mentally "prepare", kind of, and be aware that homesickness is normal, that it will get better and that it always take some time so even if I cry in bed alone tonight, the next morning will be brighter. It might be really hard right now but hang in there, it will seriously, really get better.
What's your advice?
Until then – stay groovy,