I’ve been away from England now for a longer period than ever before. Yup, it was 6 months ago that I left my family, friends, and my favourite British Ales behind to start up across the globe.
How do you cope with the problem of homesickness? This is an ever-present problem for some teachers abroad. First of all, being homesick is entirely natural. You are surrounded by the unfamiliar. You are away from everything and everyone you know. It’s only right to miss those things you know and love.
Learning to cope
It’s very helpful if you have a genuine interest in the country you are in. If you are enjoying the experience of living somewhere new, homesickness doesn’t strike so often or so intensely.
Keeping in touch with family and friends is another key to avoiding homesickness. Of course, you are living miles away from them. It changes the relationship. But knowing that you still have that bond is comforting.
Making new friends is another essential part of defeating homesickness. Find people around you who share your interests. This doesn’t necessarily mean other foreigners. Befriending local people will help you to understand the culture, give you a head start with the language and is a cure for loneliness, something many teachers complain of.
When you are feeling homesick, you might find that you start to mythologize your home country. Your current situation can seem entirely bad or wrong. Keep in mind the reasons why you started this profession and why you chose to move to this country. What do you like about it? What did you dislike about your home country? Be realistic, but don’t be negative.
In extreme cases, you might consider going back home. This isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. Discuss your problems before you make any decisions, and make sure you analyse the situation from different perspectives. Above all, don’t take yourself too seriously, and try to enjoy the experience of living and teaching abroad for as long as it suits you!
Do you have any comments to share with us about coping with homesickness?