The one thing most Saffas don’t consider when faced with the upheaval of emigration is homesickness. Of course, they may have concerns over whether they will miss the sunny climate of home (they will), especially if they emigrate to places like the UK! However, in the chaos and excitement of packing boxes, arranging accommodation, and figuring out if a winter coat is needed twelve months of the year (it is!), how to deal with homesickness abroad is the last thing on their to-do list!
Is homesickness real?
The short answer is yes! Causes of homesickness, while not an illness in the medical profession, stem from our human need for security, protection, and love, all of which we get at home. So when our regular routines are in upheaval, and familiar faces and places are replaced with strangers and foreign lands, it’s no wonder feelings of loneliness and nostalgia surface! Don’t believe us? Perhaps you would like to share what happened the last time you heard our national anthem playing in the pub? Did you get a little choked up? You know you did!
Homesickness physical symptoms
So what does homesickness feel like? Dreadful, take it from those who know! But, joking aside, unfortunately, there’s no magic cure or preventative that stops the awful anxiety and depressive feelings often associated with homesickness.
Listed below are some homesickness physical symptoms that may indicate you are missing home sweet home!
- Constant feelings of sadness/anger/nausea
- Frequent crying
- Disturbed sleep patterns
- Lack of concentration
- Feeling withdrawn/isolated
- Disinterest in social activities
- Frequent headaches
- Anxiety/panic attacks
- Feelings of low self-worth/self-esteem
We’re not going to lie to you; homesickness isn’t for the faint-hearted; it’s tough to deal with, especially when trying to integrate into a new environment. However, thankfully it doesn’t last forever, and there are things you can do to help combat its effects.
How to deal with homesickness abroad
Contrary to popular Saffa opinion, purchasing a one-way ticket back home isn’t always the best solution! For one thing, all the effort, time, and expense put into emigrating means this option isn’t always on the table for many South Africans. As a result, many Saffas in the homesick boat research how to deal with homesickness abroad. Here’s how to do it!
- Remain positive
- Ditch the house and go exploring
- Discuss how you are feeling with your loved ones
- Practice self-care and do small things that keep you happy and motivated
- Get involved in your community (charities/libraries/coffee mornings/school)
- Join a gym/club to meet new people
Reasons why you are still homesick
If you are still struggling with the overwhelming symptoms of homesickness after months of living abroad, perhaps you need to consider the below reasons that could be causing these feelings.
- Have you tried to integrate into your new environment?
Isolating yourself from the surrounding environment because you fear you won’t enjoy or like the local cuisine, language, or culture will only increase feelings of loneliness. Get out there and start to mingle!
- Have you stopped doing what you enjoy?
Most people have a hobby, whether it’s cooking, crafting, reading, or playing a musical instrument, that helps them destress and refocus. Perhaps in the move, you’ve forgotten to do what you enjoy?
- Do you feel rootless?
Sometimes we dive into a new culture with such enthusiasm we forget about our own. This can leave us feeling disconnected and lost, which further fuels homesick feelings! Maybe now is a good time to haul out the potjie pot and invite the neighbours for a lekker taste of home?
- Are you planning a premature trip home?
While going home might seem like a solution to your homesick blues, going home too soon can increase feelings of homesickness when it’s time to leave! Rather wait until you have become used to your environment before packing your vellies and hopping on a plane.
- Are you still looking backward?
Okay, so you miss home but living in a new country means endless possibilities for adventure! So grab a pen and paper and start making a list of the places you want to see and things you want to do. It’s time to start challenging yourself!
- Do you have a new routine in place?
Routines are the ultimate homesickness busters! Having a regular schedule of daily/ weekly activities such as going to the gym, shopping, having a haircut, or enjoying a Saturday morning coffee can all help you feel more at home.
Dealing with homesickness Saffa style
As South Africans, we usually have our own way of dealing with things. So in true Saffa style, the FinGlobal team has collated a special list of anti-homesick preventives for expats across the pond!
- Whip up a batch of Ouma’s rusks; nothing says home quite like Ouma!
- Light the braai; even in the snow, a boerie roll at – 18 C still tastes amazing!
- Make a midweek potjie; it’s perfect for those wintery evenings abroad.
- Make your own biltong; DIY home biltong dryers are easily purchased online or research how to build your own.
- Research suppliers of South African products in your area; there’s bound to be a South African shop near you!
A druppeltjie of chicken soup
Finally, remember, it’s perfectly normal to feel a little nostalgic about home when surrounded by so much that is unfamiliar. But thankfully, homesickness doesn’t last forever, and eventually, you will establish the stability and affection you crave in your new home.
Expert advice from finglobal for expats
At FinGlobal, we aim to assist expats with all their emigration needs. Whether you live abroad or only just considering leaving our warm sundrenched South African soil, we can offer the help you need.
Fully accredited and with over ten years of industry experience, the friendly FinGlobal team can assist with everything relating to emigration, from financial emigration and inheritance advice to taxes, forex, and more. Contact FinGlobal today to discuss how we can help with your emigration needs.
To discuss your unique needs with our team, simply get in touch with us. Give us a call on +27 28 312 2764 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will assist you promptly.