Homesickness and How to Handle It
Homesickness and How to Handle It
It’s quite normal to go through periods of homesickness when you move countries, or cities, for a work opportunity, even if (on paper) everything seems like it should be rosy and wonderful.
How does it feel to be homesick?
Even if you are excited about heading to England to teach, and the adventure of being in a new country and all the adventures that await you, it does not mean you won’t feel a little bit of homesickness. The good news is that it rarely lasts too long!
How do you overcome homesickness?
If you find yourself missing friends and family back home the best thing to do is to connect with those people. These days that is easy. Face time, WhatsApp messages and sharing pics on Snapchat or insta give you an instant boost but you also need to invest time and energy into getting out and about and meeting new people. Remember why you have decided to head off on an adventure and enjoy being able to reinvent yourself and do exactly what you like in a new city. Remember this is not forever, so enjoy it while you are there!
It is important to stay busy and plan things in advance. What will you do this weekend? Have a chat with a co-worker in a break, and accept invites. The busier you are, the less time you have to feel homesick.
If you’ve moved over on your own but don’t fancy the idea of travelling solo, there are lots and lots of group tours you can join, in which you can explore UK, Europe or North Africa with a bunch of other young people. TNT Magazine is a great place to start researching reputable tour operators.
What are your top tips for our teachers moving internationally, or even just moving cities within the UK, to help them overcome homesickness?
My first piece of advice is to Latch onto a Local. Your UK/ local account manager will be able to point you in the right direction of decent bars, cafes, transport systems, travel cards and where to purchase your new teacher wardrobe from, and you might even get along well enough to be invited along on a few nights out!
Another mantra of mine is Keep Busy. The more things you have going on in your life, the less time you have to dwell on what you are missing out on. Packing your calendar not only provides a fun distraction, it can help you meet other people, even improve yourself. Join a gym, learn to rock-climb, learn a foreign language at at evening class.
My next piece of advice: Say YES! You aren’t going to meet people in your pencil case. Force yourself to pubs, cafes, local shops and department meetings. Even if you feel like that’s the last thing you feel like doing, speaking to local people will make you feel more like you are settling in. Just remember to exercise the same judgement and caution that you would at home, it’s alarming how many people move overseas and forget to pack their common sense.
It’s also important to give yourself time to feel homesick, to identify the feeling and accept it, not to try and deny it. This is a big move and you are bound to feel alarmed, questioning your sanity and homesick at times (especially when you have one public transport debacle after another, that tends to be what makes people mad!). This is all perfectly normal, stick with it as these feelings will go away. Be gentle with yourself and remember this is all part of the process.
Finally, I’d say just relax and roll with it. This experience will make you a tougher, resilient, more robust and grounded person. It’s probably not how you expected, but nothing ever is. In ten years time, I promise you that you won’t feel this way. Most likely, in ten days time, you won’t feel this way. You feel like this now, but it will pass – it’s a moment in time, witness that thought and let it go. Be proud to be teaching in the UK. Be proud to be an adventurer. Hang on in there, this isn’t your forever, it’s just your “now for now”. But if the problem persists, it might be indicative of a greater issue – so don’t rule out seeing a counsellor or getting some kind of professional help. The UK has the fantastic NHS which does provide some free mental health services so see your local GP and get a referral – there’s no point suffering when there’s a wealth of support out there.