From experience I know that homesickness is just awful. I remember all these tearful Skype sessions with my mom and I also remember how it was being back in the United States for my extension year after a two week vacation back home in Austria. I remember waking up in New York and the minute I opened my eyes I started crying. I didn’t wanna be in New York, I wanted to be back home. Realizing that I signed up for another 9 months certainly didn’t help in that moment.
By definition homesickness is a “longing for home and family while absent from them”.
Whether you want it or not, you most likely will experience some kind of homesickness, culture shock or ‘down period’ at some point when you live abroad for the first time in your life.
Homesickness usually occurs at times when you feel like being back home. Christmas, Birthdays and other events can be perfect examples. But of course also days where nothing goes the way you want or a tough day with your host kids can end up in homesickness.
With the following tips I want to give you a guide on how to overcome homesickness:
- Meet friends
Honestly, social interaction is the best thing you can do when you are homesick. Call your au pair friends and let them know that you’re not doing very well. Go for a coffee, go to the movies, take a walk … Don’t feel bad about offloading your feelings onto them because no doubt they too have felt homesick at some point.
- Put down the social media
You probably spend too much time on Facebook, Instagram, Skype and Co. Social media is absolutely not helping when you are homesick as it will make you feel even more miserable. Give your computer and phone a break. Stop comparing your life to others.
- Leave the house
Make sure you leave the house whenever you can. Staying home is your enemy. Move your ass out of your room and become active.
- Be honest
Tell your host family and your friends that you are not doing very well at the moment as you are experiencing homesickness. The majority will understand and be supportive.
- Stay healthy
A healthy lifestyle is really important as a healthy mind needs a healthy body. What did you eat lately? Maybe that’s the reason why you are so homesick and depressed. Get some vitamins in your body and cut down on sugar. Get active and do sports. Go to the gym, join the local volleyball team, take the dog for a walk etc.
- Don’t Skype too often
The worst thing you can do when you are homesick is to Skype with your family and friends back home all the time as it won’t help you in this current situation. Try to stay in the present. You are abroad for just a year or even less. You are gaining experiences you wouldn’t gain back home. Make the best out of it.
- Focus on the positive
Make a list of all the things you love and like about the au pair experience. Write it down and look at it whenever you feel miserable. What are you thankful for? What are you looking forward to? And lets be honest guys: Back home your life wasn’t all shiny and glamorous 24/7 either.
- Yoga and Meditation
With these two tools you are able to calm down your mind. You can do it in your room and need nothing more than a yoga mat. It’s crazy what a simple Shavasana can do. I personally recommend Yoga with Adriene and the App Headspace. If you really feel like there is too much on your mind or you have trouble sleeping you should definitely give it a try!
- Keep yourself busy
The reason why you should cut short on screen time is because you might end up asking yourself: “What am I actually doing here? I am not doing anything. I am stuck in life. I am not making any steps forward.” That’s why I think it’s crucial that you keep yourself busy. Examples: Focus on your language improvement, sign up for classes you like, read books of inspiring people, keep making new friends, join a local sports team, get in touch with locals, do things you love and that make you happy (knitting, scrapbooking, blogging, cooking, …), volunteer etc.
- Make plans
Plan your next weekend trip. Start planning your travel month. Buy concert or theatre tickets. Look up all the things you can do in your area and do them.
Do you feel at home at your host family’s place? Do you enjoy spending time with them? If you feel like you are not with the right host family you might wanna consider a rematch.
- Don’t quit
I beg you not to give up. I know that homesickness is the worst, but all of this is such an important life lesson you won’t regret in the end.
To me homesickness is a very interesting emotion. Whenever I was homesick I couldn’t eat, wanted to cry all the time and was just overall really unhappy. Kind of like a depression. But the funny thing was that whenever I got over it, whenever I got past homesickness I forgot completely how it felt. All I could remember was that it was just the worst feeling. And you know what? I made it. I overcame it and I am so happy and proud that I really lived abroad for such a long time.
If you are homesick and happen to read this: You can do this! I believe in you. When I was able to finish it, you can do it too.
If you have any questions or more tips please get in touch with me.