5 Ways for Expats to Beat the Homesick Blues

We used to live in an incredibly interconnected world; the term global community held true as many people lived, worked, and visited the world with ea

We used to live in an incredibly interconnected world; the term global community held true as many people lived, worked, and visited the world with ease. In fact, a 2013 study by the United Nations found that 232 million people (then 3.2 percent of the global population), lived in countries other than those they were born in. 

Those figures show a rather steep jump between the 154 million who lived overseas in 1990. Fast forward to 2021, and things have changed. The ongoing pandemic has put a sharp stop to many things that were once considered normal, including open flight paths.

While fewer people may be moving countries now, several people are stuck in nations other than their own. The lack of viable flight options mean visiting home is hard, if not impossible for many given the extortionate prices.

If you’re an expat stuck overseas, you might be feeling the pinch of homesick blues. If so, we’ve compiled a guide to six ways to stay on top of those tricky emotions and keep up your positivity levels.

Stay in touch with your family and friends

Although the flights might not be available, today’s communications technologies make it easier than ever to stay connected to friends and family, no matter where they are. Staying in touch is really a matter of choosing an app — exchange a few memes on Instagram, share funny videos with your mates on TikTok, or have long phone conversations on Zoom.

No matter how you choose to stay in touch, try and do so regularly. Having contact (even virtual contact) with those close to you can have a very positive effect on your mental well-being and can even help you cope with the stresses of daily life.

Get involved in the local culture

We all know that one expat who, despite living in the host country for 10-plus years, speaks none of the local lingo, has no local friends, and really only has bad things to say about where they live. Don’t be that person. Othering yourself by not getting involved in the local culture, even to a small extent, can worsen feelings of homesickness and may even help engender a victim mentality.

According to the BBC, when you’re in a homesickness funk, it’s all too easy to blame others, or the host country, which can be a detrimental mindset to adopt. Instead, focus on the stuff you do love about where you’re living, give the local language a shot, and make some friends.

Find other expats

While it shouldn’t come at the expense of the advice above, if you’re really struggling with homesickness, finding some other expats in your region could help you address these emotions. After all, who else will understand your unique situation better than those living it themselves?

Whether it seems likely or not, othentimes, even the smallest, most remote places play host to expatriates. Try and find some people in your area. Social networks such as InterNations, a channel designed for expats, are a good start. As are Facebook groups — try searching “expats in X” and replace X with your host town’s name.

Watch a little TV from home

It might sound like a simple idea, but sometimes just kicking back with some recognizable television is a comfort in itself. While you won’t be able to turn on your TV and pick up channels from home, there are ways around this conundrum.

Let’s suppose you’re a homesick Australian who misses Home & Away (okay, Aussies, it’s just an example). To watch this show on-demand, you’ll first get the Channel 5 app. Then, you’re going to need to “hide” your device’s IP address to skirt the geo-blocking restrictions. Using a VPN, set your server location to Australia, and then stream away happily.

This trick works well for any on-demand app from multiple countries. Try BBC iPlayer, or TVNZ, or SBS, the list goes on.

A change is as good as a holiday

As trite as it may sound, sometimes a change really is as good as a holiday. While it’s not going to match traveling to be with family and friends, sometimes making small changes to your life and routines overseas can have a big impact.

Think about the things in your day to day life that are making you unhappy. Which of those things can you change, and which of those things do you need to accept? If you can make some changes, do. It could be as small as squeezing in a jog before work, or changing apartments, any change can be refreshing, especially when it’s sorely needed.

There’s no doubt about it, feeling homesick is hard. And it’s even harder now with fewer options available to those overseas to visit home. Try following the tips about combating the blues and keep up the positivity.