Contributing Author: Little Miss Expat
For any expat, nomad or traveler, homesickness is often a reality. No matter how strong you are, or how long you have lived in a place, at some point we always find ourselves missing home just a bit. I wrote this post on my blog almost a year ago now, and I still find it one of the most relevant posts I’ve ever written, as I continue learning about homesickness myself.
Homesickness as an Expat
For me, and pretty much most other expats, the holidays usually mean going back home and visiting family. In my situation, that means going back to England and spending time with my family and friends. Usually, by the end of my trip back home, I find myself a little teary on the days we head back to Dubai because, as happy as I am here, it’s always hard to leave England. I think that anyone who lives away from home, or who has family that lives faraway can probably relate to this: leaving your family behind can sometimes feel like you’re leaving a little part of yourself behind.
I sometimes feel like I’m torn between the two places because Dubai is my ‘home’ now, but England seems too natural and safe to me. The same goes for any other expat, going back to their old home. That ‘safe place’ is almost like looking back at a part of your life without recognizing it. In other words, seeing what your whole life used to consist of makes it seem so far away now, as we have changed so much since we were last there.
Oftentimes when we go back home we look forward to the things we can’t do in our ‘expat homes’, seeing the places we missed and meeting with people we don’t get to see a lot. But it’s always a shock to find that things are never the same as they used to be. One of the hardest things to come to terms is the fact that your ‘old life’ moves on while you’re living your ‘new expat life’. That world that you left behind, still continues to change, so this ideology of going back to the ‘safe place’ that we think will be the same as how we left it is merely a mind game that we have to overcome. What do I mean by a mind game?
Think about it this way - for most of us when we’re having a really bad day or feeling a little down, this is when our homesickness kicks in, and we wish we could be back in that ‘safe place’, that place where you’re surrounded by family, and where times seemed simpler. But it’s a mind game. Nothing ever stays as how we left it, and being in one place, which you have fond memories of, is not going to change everything. The trick to conquering and overcoming homesickness is to re-programme your happy place or safe place so that when you’re having days where homesickness kicks in, you don’t automatically crave your old home with all its fond memories.
Re-Programming your Brain
Instead of craving a ‘safe-place’ from your past, re-programme your brain to search for a ‘safe place’ in your ‘new life’, or in other words the life you’re living now. When you next feel sad or down, try and think of a happy memory in the place you are now. Over time this will change your mindset to think of your ‘safe place’ in your ‘expat home’, and hopefully you will not crave your old home as much.
Feeling homesick is totally okay, and sometimes it’s even good to have a big old cry and get everything out of your system. I know as well as any of you that it hurts, that it’s hard to live between two places and constantly feel like you’re leaving a bit of yourself behind. But it’s the way you deal with this that really matters, and that will eventually help you to get over this. I myself am still learning more about homesickness, but I’m just trying to share my ideas with you guys. I would really appreciate it if you left a comment letting me know how you deal with homesickness, and any thoughts you have on the subject.
Lots of love and stay strong!