You did it! You've managed the final hurdle of moving abroad and now your new life can begin. Except for one thing; from time to time you will find yourself missing your home country. Everything from the familiar language, the well-trodden roads, to the smell of Sunday roast gravy or meeting up with your friends.
Moving to a new country is an amazing journey but we all get homesick once in a while. Luckily there a few simple and helpful ways to keep in touch with your old life and your friends and family.
There's nothing better than receiving a handwritten letter in the post from someone you care about. These days smartphones are all the rage. Whilst they can be helpful for phone calls and instant messages to whomever and wherever, they are also impersonal.
Sometimes we all need to take the time to sit down and think about what we actually want to tell our loved ones. Letters take longer – especially when you cross things out and rewrite that last bit – but spending some time can make them better to read. Your friends and family are more likely to be touched by a letter that has your handwriting on it than simple text on a screen.
The simple thing about Skype is it requires only three things; a laptop, an internet connection and a webcam. Once it's set up and your contacts are added, it's just a case of agreeing on a time when you are both online and can 'call' each other.
Putting the webcam on full screen and turning the volume on your laptop up can help the call feel more like a talk face to face – or rather screen to screen! There is also a text bar underneath for typing; very helpful if your webcam signal goes awry mid-call! You can also send each other links to websites and pictures from what's been going on in your lives.
Not only hearing but seeing your loved ones can make all the difference, particularly if you are unable to regularly visit.
Here is where the smartphone comes into its own. Whatsapp is similar to Skype but focuses more on texting and calling. Again an internet connection is needed.
When connected, it enables you to text and call your contacts who live in other countries free of charge. This is a lot cheaper than paying exorbitant phone bills and it allows you to contact friends and family on the go as you normally would in your home country.
Another aspect is being able to take and send pictures and videos with your phone, so your contacts don't have to miss out on what's going in your part of the world.
Not all phone calls to home require an internet connection. Most of the main providers will have Travel Boosters which can be added to your regular mobile phone bill. Deals can vary with each company.
Generally, a Booster allows you to make as many calls and texts as you like. Because it is part of your contract, your phone provider will charge significantly less per text and call than they would without the Booster.
This can be a good way of budgeting for your contact with home. Too much contact can make you miss friends and family more. Sometimes knowing you have budgeted for a call a week and few texts can help you focus on your new life in your chosen country.
Also, check out your Roaming Settings to make sure you don't get caught out with expensive calls.
Sensual memories usually tug our heartstrings the hardest. Lavender can remind us of our grandmothers or the whiff of pastry can make us reminisce about English apple pie just like Mum used to make.
Embracing the culture of your new country is a great way to integrate, but it doesn't mean you have to give up the old classics. Most ingredients for recipes can be found anywhere. After all, your basic bread and butter pudding requires bread, butter, sugar, sultanas, cream, milk and eggs – which can be found in most shops worldwide!
Try treating yourself to a Home Food night every week where you can make all your favourite meals from back home. Disastrous cooking incidents or experimenting with new flavours found in your current country will all make good anecdotes to include the next time you're on the phone with a friend from home.
Remember, you've moved to your new country for a reason. Despite the homesickness, there are ways of helping the blues to go away by getting out and about in your local community. Depending on your region there are likely to be other expats living nearby, and certainly at least a few people will speak English.
It can be helpful to join a local group interested in one of your hobbies. You could always start an Expat Group of your own, whether it be for a book club or an arts club. Sometimes knowing that another person is going through the same thing as you are can make all the difference – especially if you can get together over a slice of good old English Victoria Sponge!
Alternatively, there is a wealth of online expat communities where you can read other people's experiences. You can even try writing your own online diary of your adventures, including the times you feel homesick.
It is natural to miss your old country and the people you care about. Moving to new climes is a massive step in anyone's life so it's important to give yourself a break when you feel the homesickness blues.
But remember there are simple ways to stay in touch. Even doing the opposite and going out to find like-minded people can be the spoonful of Expat medicine you need. Remember, it's the start of a new adventure for you, and you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.
Posted in Expat Resources on Jun 8 2017