Home is not a place, it’s a feeling.
We have all been there – I mean those of us who want to get more out of the experience of travelling and like to spend more than a few days or weeks of vacation abroad. You move elsewhere and you feel it’s all amazing at first. The new country is such a good place, with new things to explore. The locals seem to be friendly and welcoming. And you start day-dreaming about partying in a lovely terrace with a bunch of new cool local friends you have made on the way.
After a few months you realise that it’s not all sugar and spices and things start to turn sour.
And then it hits you like a crash. You start disliking the locals and their culture – it even gets to the point where you actually hate everything that has to do with them. This change in your beliefs and mood about the new city can be named as culture shock. Leaving your country to relocate somewhere else is hard work. It doesn’t matter if for a few months or years.
Sooner or later the initial experience of excitement that comes with learning new things and discovering new places, people and ways of living turns into feeling homesick.
You start missing your family and friends of a lifetime. You start feeling disconnected and isolated. And it feels difficult to make new friends with local people – they have got all they need in their hometown, their friends and families. And you thought you spoke the language prior to moving abroad or you thought that in a few months you would have mastered it. In a nutshell, it’s not as easy as you thought it would be.
The locals speak with their accent, have their own expressions, and you don’t always understand what they say.
Your National identity comes before your first name most times. You are the American, British, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Aussie, Kiwi, South African national to them prior to being simply yourself. As a result you end up making new friends with other expats. But they come and go and even if you have been living somewhere for a few years there are times where you feel as lonely as if you had just moved to a new place.
After some time you realise that you are not the same individual you used to be prior to making this experience.
And it’s hard work to embrace change and feel ok about being different from the old you. If, after reading about homesickness, you are thinking: "So what can I do about it? What's done cannot be undone!" remember, the good news is that talking to a professional can help you to integrate new experiences and feel better about what’s going on in your life. Be reassured that this can be treated in therapy. Feeling homesick is a common challenge for expats. Talking to an expert can also help with feeling low in mood, if this hits you at times, as a result of feeling lonely and homesick. Remember that home is not a place, it's a feeling.
The International Psychology Clinic: Private Psychologists in London
For more information about how to deal with homesickness, book a Consultation with one of our Therapists. We offer effective and up to date Expats Counselling at our Therapy Clinics in Central London, Therapy Clinics for Expats in Italy and Online Therapy worldwide. Browse our London-based Therapists and Italy-based Therapists profile pages now to find yours.