5 tips for coping with homesickness
First of all, you are not alone. Homesickness is normal, and most people go through some form of homesickness. Criticising yourself for feeling this way will not help. Let go the struggle of “not wanting” to feel this way and accept that this is part of your journey here. Allow yourself some space to just “feel” this. All the tips below will help you, but remember feelings come and go, and are more likely to release if you give them some space. However, if you have tried various tools, and find that your homesickness is really affecting you, or spiralling into other difficult feelings such as anxiety or depression, then don't hesitate to get professional help from a therapist. (you can find my contact details on this website)
Five tips to help with homesickness!
1.Come home to home. Even if you are in a tiny basement room, or you are only staying for three months, it's important to make your own space as comfortable and as welcoming as possible. Put up a book shelf, hang a picture, buy the incense sticks, small inexpensive touches. Your special mug, your smoothie maker that you can't live without, a lamp to change the ambience of the room. Make it your own. People make the mistake of not personalising their space, or not making it a home, because they won’t be staying long term. These small things help. There is a huge second hand online market in Madrid ( https://es.wallapop.com/) as well as many charity shops, and second hand shops such as cashconverters. You don’t have to spend much, to make your space feel cosy and welcoming.
2. Culture. Get some balance to help with the culture shock. Accept that no place is perfect and that every culture has something to offer. It doesn't have to be black and white. It is okay to go looking for your special tea from home, or find friends from your own country or speak your own language. However see if you can embrace some part of the culture. For example, try getting into the Spanish tradition of having a "tostada" in a bar at 11 or 12.00. Give it time, and you'll soon be craving your mid -morning tostada! Cycle in casa de campo on a Sunday morning with the local fanatics, finishing with a beer and tapa at 12, at the bar by the lake. Appreciate the differences, (even if you don’t like all of them!).
3. Find your social circle. You are here to meet Spanish people and immerse yourself in the community. If you can do this, then that's great. However, don't let that goal end up leaving you feeling lonely or isolated. There are plenty of groups out there which will bring you in to contact with people from all over the world. The important thing is to get out, and also to find out what works better for you. Whether it's the party nights, the language exchanges, or smaller intimate meetings. A great idea is to find a group with similar interests to you, whether it's wine tasting, gaming, or hiking! You can find your circle! Here are some groups for meeting other people, both expat and Spanish.
4. Journal. Get yourself a notebook for writing. This is not a journal for recounting events or describing places you’ve been to. Let it be a place you express yourself freely. Write about your most difficult feelings, and also write when you feel good. This kind of journaling gives you a place to be completely authentic. This can help us process what is going on for us and can be a huge relief just to get it all out of our heads.
5. Reach out to a good friend. We spend a lot of time on social media, but it is a lot more useful to make a call, or meet someone in person, and have a good chat. You don’t need to open up with everyone, but it is important to have at least one person (family or friends) to whom you can talk openly and honestly. Life requires us to put on a brave front, whether because of our work commitments, or social norms, and we have less and less opportunity to be authentic. This does not mean “over sharing’, or complaining endlessly, or not having good boundaries. We should choose carefully who we will be open and vulnerable with, but it is essential to find a place to be genuine.