It is true that one day I basically jumped into life as an expat with very little thought behind my decision. It is also true that it is something I have never once regretted. Living abroad changed my life in so many amazing ways.
Though while I was living in South Korea and China, there were certainly times that made me question my decision to leave the states and live abroad.
While living in Seoul, I had my big brother and our network of friends. But when I married my Chinese husband and we moved just across the Yellow Sea to his home in Qingdao, China, I suddenly felt absolutely homesick. To me, it was like climbing to the top of a really tall tree super-fast only to look down and panic.
But instead of letting it take complete control, I took control of my homesickness. It was not easy, however if you are living abroad and missing home, you can find some comfort in one of these things.
1. Build a real network in your new city
Social media is amazing for staying in touch and sharing all those cool photos, but there will be times it tears you apart because you can’t go home. So go looking for other expats. If you have come for work, you will likely meet some of them at your new job. In bigger cities, there are always expat networks so do a search in your area and start connecting.
2. Experience life in this new culture
Oddly, I did not feel overwhelmed by Korean culture. It was Chinese culture that really frustrated me. It took some time, but I learned to let go and just try to hang in the moment. By doing that, I found new things I loved and now miss that I am back in the states.
3. See the sights
One of the best things about living abroad is that it puts you in a place where you can explore the far and away sites that you have only seen in photos. Now is your chance to see it up close and personal. Walking on the Great Wall was indeed one of my happiest memories from living in China.
4. Find little touches of home
That saying, “you do not know what you got ‘til it has gone,” is completely true when you move abroad. The foods and products that you take for granted in your daily life will be nowhere around.
You will have to learn to live without them, or make new favorites. And if you are lucky, you will find stores that carry imports. You will not be able to find everything you love but you will find enough stuff to perk you up a bit.
5. Talk to another foreigner about your homesickness
The most healing thing you can do is lean on another foreigner when you are all just strangers in a strange land. I was lucky enough to meet some amazing people and we each had our moments where we wanted to just run back home. By leaning on each other, it kept us all afloat when we needed it most.
And now that we are all back in our home countries, we all stay in touch. Oddly, we now discuss the many things we miss from our host countries in a twist of reverse homesickness.
Are you thinking of living abroad? Where do you want to go?