Once you get your basic necessities arranged and the excitement of your new country wears off a bit, you could find yourself moving through the stages of homesickness. I know I did, and it’s an emotional roller coaster for you, the people you interact with in your new country, and your friends and family back “home.”
Homesickness and Grief
The brain on homesickness is much like the brain on grief—the stages and emotions are remarkably similar, and that makes sense. You are, after all, mourning the death of your former existence to a large degree.
According to the article Feeling homesick? (at canadianimmigrant.ca):
Confronted by feelings of loss, many immigrants experience a profound sense of grief. Grief is a natural emotional reaction to loss. Theorists suggest that it is characterized by five stages — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, otherwise known as the grief cycle.
I can attest to the similarity of homesickness and grief, because I absolutely went through all the stages (if you go through my posts in the Expat Adventures and Australia categories, you will read all the telltale signs—I have deliberately not removed some of my more scathing posts as a testament to this). At times I was at absolute war with my new surroundings. I mean I resisted everything. Other times, I felt like I couldn’t get out of bed, I was so depressed—and I’m a pretty strong, resilient woman—so my inability to cope initially surprised even me.
Eventually I stopped beating myself up about how I was handling life as an expat, and accepted that I was indeed moving through the stages of homesickness. I resigned myself to dealing with things one day at a time…some days I was totally fine, others weepy here and there. But the days between those emotions eventually grew as I adjusted. I came to genuinely enjoy many things about Sydney (in spite of my frustration), and the truth is, now, it is forever a part of my heart.
UPDATE | October 2013: New resources have been added below. And if you’re feeling homesick now, be sure you read through the comments and my responses in the comments section…you are not alone! The answers you are hoping for are probably already there.
Half of the homesickness battle is education and distraction, the other half is time, plain and simple. You will adjust, but it might take six months to a year or longer. The process is very individual and you may or may not experience severe homesickness depending on what happened in your life before you moved overseas. In the interim, here are links to help you better understand and cope with homesickness:
- 10 Tips for Managing Homesickness (another post here on G&G)
- Homesickness, Hair Loss, and Methylisothiazolinone: Why Everyone Should Read this Post (another post here on G&G)
- How to Deal with Homesickness Freshman Year
- 19 Ways to Reduce Homesickness Abroad
- The Expatriate’s Alienation: A Guide to Overcoming Feelings of Homesickness
- Homesickness Symptoms
- 12 Weeks After Arrival: Homesickness – Tips for Coping with Homesickness
- Singing the Homesick Blues
- Why Expats Fail to Make a Go of a New Life Abroad
- Homesickness isn’t really about ‘home’
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