Homesickness isn’t compulsory for newly arrived expats

Homesickness isn’t compulsory for newly arrived expats

Homesickness isn’t compulsory for newly arrived expats

Moving overseas to take on a new job is an exciting experience for the vast majority of expat professionals.

The majority of expats moving overseas for work spend time checking out their destinations online long before the move actually takes place. Videos of glorious sunsets, spectacular beaches, azure-blue seas and colourful traditional celebrations all make their prospective new lives seem perfect. However, all’s not so spectacularly lovely once they’ve arrived and are struggling to cope with a new language, new laws and even foods they’re not used to.

The first year spent overseas with a new job is the toughest, with homesickness often the hardest issue to overcome. Missing family and friends is real, Skype is just a substitute and the remembered warmth of family life back in the home country tempts many new expats to give up and go home. It’s also difficult to find fun things to do after the work day ends, leading many to use alcohol to blunt their misery.

One way to prevent the stress of homesickness is to begin learning new skills as well as concentrating on your new language if you’re not fluent already. Taking up exercise such as jogging or going to a local gym can be constructive as well as being a good way to make new friends. The emphasis for new arrivals is often on making local friends as it’s good for getting used to a new culture, but having mates from the home country is also an essential part of living overseas as an expat.

Using social media to stay in close contact with loved ones and longstanding friends back home is fine, but excessive use can make homesickness far more difficult to cope with. Spending all your free time online or on the phone or in front of a computer means you’re not in real time as regards your new home and the reasons why you’re there. Also, you're missing out on events and activities which can help you adjust to and enjoy your new location.

When you’re actually living in rather than just visiting a city, the wish to see all the sights and diverse experiences isn’t as urgent, as there’s plenty of time in the future to play tourist again. Locals know the best places to relax, enjoy a decent coffee and take in the vibes, and newly-arrived expats need to find their favourites as well, as this encourages positivity as regards both your job and your new environment. Making new friends wherever they’re from is important, and easily achieved by joining activities and events organised by your workplace or local expats’ group.

All told, homesickness is a normal part of becoming an expat in a strange land with all new arrivals feeling it for a while, but it’s a bad idea to let it take charge of your new life and force you to miss out on all the positives of expatriation.

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