Moving away from home can be some tough stuff. While it could be a total adventure, you also end up looking for ways to beat homesickness as you start craving your mom's homemade soup, the coziness of your old, worn-in couch, the familiarity of your rented walls, and the warm hello of your friends' faces. Our brains don't like change; we like to stay where it's safe and familiar, where we have roots set down in the form of routines and coffee shops. When you uproot everything and fly the coop, those waves of nostalgia and familiar comfiness follow after you, whether they're crossing interstate highways or big oceans. And so you find yourself sitting up at three in the morning, hugging your pillow and missing the place you used to call home.
The good news is, this is completely normal. Of course you're going to miss the place you spent years making memories in. While you can't completely wipe away homesickness (it's just a feeling you gotta feel), there are ways you can alleviate it and cope. No one wants you crying alone in the shower. With these helpful tips in mind, you can shake yourself out of your blue mood and go enjoy those fresh, new surroundings you plunked yourself into. Here are seven ways to beat homesickness — because you can miss home, but don't forget to enjoy your adventure!
1. Set Up New Routines
A surefire way to take out the strangeness of your new surroundings and make yourself feel like your life is falling back into place is to set yourself up with a routine. At this point it sort of feels like you took your life and threw it onto its head, scattering all the contents on the floor. Everything is strange, different, and you feel overwhelmed with the things you have to grow accustomed to. Ease that feeling by setting yourself up into a routine.
According to Josh Klapow, a clinical psychologist and associate professor in an article for CNN, "You're not literally just missing your house. You're missing what's normal, what is routine, the larger sense of social space, because those are the things that help us survive." So lessen the intensity of your homesickness by creating a schedule. Wake up at the same time every morning, spread the same jam on your toast every day come nine o'clock. Go to a coffee shop close by or read the paper, then fall into a steady pace at work. When everything feels so new, create something that you can count on to be the same.
2. Throw Yourself Into What's Uncomfortable
Sometimes you're somewhere so different that it gives you a shock. And when you feel such intense, new feelings, your knee-jerk reaction could be to avoid it at all costs and fall back to missing what was once familiar. To counter that feeling, be brave and throw yourself into what's uncomfortable.
According to Natalie Southwick at GoOverseas, "If there are issues that are causing homesickness, consider over-exposing yourself to them until you've habituated to what they feel like — for example, if crowded markets are overwhelming, then spend a lot of time there until you feel more relaxed."
Do the busy, honking streets intimidate you; do you feel like you'll lose your way on the winding roads? Do the smells of the new foods wig you out, or does the homeyness of the small town make your big-city anonymity feel out of place? Whatever it is, fall head first into it. The more you spend time with it, the more comfortable you'll become. And pretty soon, that homesick feeling will begin to fade.
3. Give Yourself A Taste Of Home
When you're somewhere new, you're going to have moments where you'll miss your old apartment and your old friends and your old Wednesday night haunts. That's just normal; you fell in love with those things. But that doesn't mean you have to live with the ache with a pencil between your teeth — alleviate it with small reminders of home.
According to Victoria Borisch at Huffington Post, "Something with emotional value and as simple as a childhood stuffed animal, family photographs or your favorite chocolate bar could make a huge difference when it comes to dealing with homesickness." If you're in a new state, put up pictures of your family on your fridge, or buy one of those state-centric posters that show you bleed Illini (or wherever you came from). If that doesn't work, go grab a favorite dinner you would always enjoy back at home (kimchi tacos anyone?) or watch a favorite TV show that reminds you of being cuddled up on your old couch (looking at you, Gilmore Girls).
4. Don't Let Yourself Fall Into A Pity Party
When feeling blue, it can be easy to blame your current situation on outside factors. While the finger-pointing can run through your mind every once in a while (we're only human!) the trick is to not fall into a pity party over it. Remember, you chose to pick up and move. Chances are it was for an excellent, exciting reason.
According to Karina Martinez-Carter at BBC, "Remember, you are exactly where you wanted to be,” Stein said. “It’s about owning where you are, choosing what you want the next day to look like and taking little steps to get there.”
When you feel yourself slipping into a sulk, pick yourself back up by the bootstraps and create a plan to spend your time wisely while you're there. Own where you are, and back up your decision. Maybe you moved because of school? Then devise a plan on what needs to get done that week to continue to ace your classes. Or maybe you moved to learn something new about yourself? Then see what sorts of adventures you can get into the next couple of days to keep that curiosity alive. You're here with a purpose; the homesickness is worth it.
5. Get Adopted
Being lonely is a huge factor when it comes to homesickness. You're far from your family and your best friends and feel like a fish out of water in your new home. While everything you know might be highways and oceans away, that doesn't mean you can't create a new support system where you are.
According to Natalie Southwick at GoOverseas, "One of the best ways to do this is to get 'adopted',make a close local friend who will invite you to their family functions, will help you when you're feeling most lost and in need, and can be a sympathetic ear when you're having a bad day." And you don't have to go as far as being invited to a family Sunday brunch — just having a new pal who will invite you out with friends or who would grab coffee with you and listen to your stories would be a huge help. Put yourself out there and find your family away from home.
6. Remind Yourself Why You Moved There To Begin With
Chances are you moved there for a good reason, whether it was for school, your career, love, or to learn something new about yourself. According to Ann Cheow, an international student at Edinburgh, "I told myself that I had a bigger purpose in being here. That missing home was the price I had to pay for the freedom, and the opportunity of an in-depth education."
Think back to what motivated you to leave home in the first place. Were you not satisfied with your current situation? Were you ready to grow as a person, or to learn what you're capable of? And more importantly, would you be happy going back to that old situation, or is it worth feeling a little homesick for mom's hugs to stick it through and see what will happen. Remember, nothing worthwhile comes easy. You've made your decision to move knowing it'll take work on your part — and that includes work for settling in.
7. Don't Wallow In Your Misery — Go Explore!
Instead of missing what was familiar, find reasons to love your new home. According to Victoria Borisch at Huffington Post, "If you have just moved to a new place, play the tourist for a while and get acclimated with your new home. If you have been there for some time, explore parts of the city that you have not seen before or try a new restaurant. Anything to broaden your horizons and open your mind will be a great distraction from missing home and will also help you feel more connected to your new home."
Find amazing new restaurants that will make you forget about the ones you would frequent with friends at home. Find cozy cafes and charming book stores, as well as interesting streets and quirky neighborhoods. Walk through nature, get lost in markets, and visit all the touristy bits and the underground secrets. If you're stuck living there, you might as well find a way to love it.
Who knows, maybe after seeing everything it has to offer, it could kind of start feeling like your new home. You just might find yourself loving where you've ended up.