I never thought I’d be the type to get homesick. I’ve never been a homebody and have a huge love for travel. When I left for college, I loudly announced my joy to all of my Snapchat followers that my parents were O-U-T-T-A here! Anticipating a summer abroad, I didn’t think three months across the Pond would make me crave the boring old Midwest, but my, was I wrong! I may have been savoring sweet bites of chocolate macarons, but I wanted nothing more than a chicken burrito bowl from Chipotle. I casually strolled through the elite Galeries Lafayettes downtown, but all I longed for was a walk through Target’s dollar section in the U.S. This monster is named homesickness.
Whether or not you’re like me, it’s impossible to avoid being homesick forever, especially when you’re overwhelmed with culture shock. Here are five ways to calm your homesickness:
1. Find your happy place.
And this isn’t coming from some weird guru who hasn’t showered in three months who sits crosslegged 24/7. Whether you’ve moved several hours away or several countries away, it’s going to take awhile to find your new normal. In the meantime, find a place where you’re happy and comfortable. For me, that was the Starbucks both when I moved to college and to France. It was known, and I knew the typical behavior (because that’s not a given in another culture). I also found a park near my apartment and enjoyed taking walks there. Whether it’s a cafe or park, find somewhere where you can truly savor rest—and this is not in your apartment!
2. Lather up on the grace.
Because the basic tasks like grocery shopping will take substantially more energy. A typical day at home may have included several errands, dinner prep, a coffee date and a workout. But being in a new environment is draining. Give yourself the grace to take life more slowly in the beginning; beating yourself up for not being able to live the life you had before only sets you back.
3. Journal your thoughts (yes, even the messy ones).
When the culture shock wears you down and you’ve never been more homesick in your life, take time to reflect. Write each and every day even if the feelings are rough, raw and real. You may be living in one of the most beautiful countries in the world yet having the worst month of your entire life. That’s okay healthy to admit. Here are some journal prompts to help you dig deeper:
4. Look back on past hardships.
This is much more helpful if you’ve maintained a journal where you’ve shared your uncomfortable feelings. On a particularly hard day in France, I flipped back through my journal to an entry six months prior. I’d detailed my hurt feelings from a difficult time. And sitting at my little desk in my French apartment, I realized how much I’d grown from that rough patch months before. It’d been one of the most painful experiences I’d ever experienced, but time had healed the hurt. And even more, I became a stronger woman who understood herself and others much, much better. Beyond painful experiences, leaving teaches you more than you could ever imagine.
5. Call family and friends.
Life in a new city or country can feel lonely and like constant homesickness. It’s oh-so important to push yourself out of your comfort zone to make new friends, but at the end of the day, sometimes you just need your mama and your bff. God bless FaceTime, iMessage and Snapchat! Be intentional with the time you have, and be transparent about how hard adjustment has been.
Adventure isn’t always a straight path from point A to B. You may deviate from the trail and take two steps forward, three steps back. Acknowledge the difficulty of homesickness and culture shock, and be kind to yourself. And soon enough, you’ll feel more at home.