Thursday, October 3

EXPAT DIARIES - HOMESICKNESS


Before I moved to Costa Rica, I lived in Spain for nine months. It was almost exactly this time three years ago that I was unpacking in my new apartment with three other North Americans getting ready to live the next nine months of our lives in beautiful Cordoba. Although it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. You see, I was deeply homesick for almost the first three months I was there. It took me a very long time to get adjusted to living in a foreign country. I thought I would give some advice on what helped me through it and what I wish I had done from my first month there!


Get out and go for a walk. In my first few months abroad I spent too much time in my apartment and not enough time out in the city exploring! I quickly learned that just going for a walk outside, wandering around the streets and getting lost was one of my favorite things to do. By the time my family got to Cordoba, they thought I had lived there for years by how well I knew my way around the city.

Try the local food. A great way to have a little adventure and not have to leave your city is to try the local food. My roommates and I spent one afternoon trying snails for the first time and even though none of us enjoyed the actual food, we all enjoyed the experience. We spent most of the time playing with our food (sorry mom!) and making memories instead of thinking about how much we missed home.

Travel! - The best part about living in a new country is all the new places you can travel to. I know for some people, it may be financially hard to be traveling every single weekend (it was for me). However, I tried to take advantage of land transportation to visit different cities that are also in Spain. It is much cheaper to travel to a nearby city than to get on a plane to head to another country. However, I was able to save up to take a few bigger trips, including a very long weekend trip to the Canary Islands! Taking trips like these is such a good way to get your mind off of home because you spend so much time planning for the trip and then taking it makes you want to do it all over again.

Make a community for yourself. Over the months that I was working, I got to know a few of my coworkers pretty well. They took me under their wings and began inviting me to their homes to learn how to make typical Spanish recipes or invited me to go shopping to the best underground stores around. I also become really close with the mom of one of my private lesson students. Towards the end of my year there, we ended up spending a lot of time together and I went on some fun family days with her and her son that really made me feel like I belonged there. I think having these relationships helped me the most because I was able to bond with locals and not just other people from the USA.

Invite people to visit you. My parents had been planning on visiting me pretty much since the moment I knew I was accepted to the program. Knowing that my family was coming to visit me and having a lot of things planned for us to do, really gave me something to look forward to when I was feeling a little bit down about missing them. Not to mention, when your family visits you are pretty much constantly going out to restaurants and seeing tons of sites so that you are constantly staying busy.

These are just a few tips that helped me with my homesickness while abroad. What tips have you found that help you??

linking up with rachel and the expat diaries

4 comments:

Danielle E. Alvarez said...

Oh, you lived in Cordoba! What a beautiful little city, one of the first I visited in Spain, and Europe for that matter. Of course, homesickness knows no boundaries. I use and have used similar methods as you when I get pangs of missing home. I also gave myself a "keep in touch" schedule. I'll set aside one day a week, to write a couple emails and have a Skype call or two. It ensures that I don't ever feel too far from my friends and family at home but that I also don't stay too plugged in to appreciate my life abroad. I tend to call my mom/dad every few days just to check in though.

Rachel said...

I've pretty much felt homesick ever since moving BACK to the U.S.--probably because my family is still overseas. It's hard to feel completely at home without your family, but these are great tips for learning contentment in a new home!

Kate said...

These are great tips! I think it's impossible to avoid feelings of loneliness or oh-my-god-what-did-I-do?! type panics, so I think it helps to have some positive stuff prepared to keep your spirits up :)

Kate | Diaries of an Essex Girl

Rachel said...

Wonderful tips! I was homesick when we first moved to Scotland and getting out of bed and going on a walk helped a lot! I think it's so important to explore and get used to your surroundings as soon as you arrive in a new place.

Traveling helped too, of course.
:) Thanks for linking up!