We move and travel abroad for a multitude of reasons. Whether it’s to start a new life, or to find new opportunities; whatever it may be, you moved overseas for a crucial purpose. But in the midst of encountering culture shock, it can be easy to lose yourself in the dreaded dark hole of homesickness. When we become overwhelmed with feelings of missing home, we can start to forget why we even chose to move abroad. Although it’s impossible to completely replicate what it’s like living back home, there are a couple of things you can do to maintain your connection with the motherland despite being an ocean away. Here are 5 ways you can overcome homesickness and stay connected to your home country and culture!
1. Find People From Your Community
When I returned to New York City after living in Cameroon, I found it comforting to engage with other people like me who had spent years living abroad outside of their home country. They didn’t have to be Cameroonian, or even African necessary. But simply surrounding myself with people who had a similar experience to mine helped ease my feelings of homesickness and reverse culture shock.
2. Find Events Catering To Your Community
This can definitely make the task of finding people from your community all the much easier. If you live in a large metropolitan city, chances are that there are many other immigrants from your home country living there too, and probably events catering to members of your community. Living in New York City, I constantly pass by parades, concerts, or gatherings of people from the same foreign country. In fact, just yesterday I passed by yet another gathering at a city park, which was for immigrants from Nepal. I’m not sure what exactly the purpose of the gathering was, but it was lovely to see everyone dressed in their traditional Nepalese attire. And this can be you too; a quick google search on events happening in your area will let you know what other members of your community are up to and where they are congregating.
3. Fill Your House With Scents From Home
Scent is perhaps the most powerful out of all 5 senses when it comes to dealing with memory recollection. Think about it- how many times have you come across a familiar scent only to be transported back in time to a fond memory? Filling your home with scents from back home can trigger nostalgia and make you feel more connected with your original home. When I was leaving Cameroon, I made sure to take back incense that my mother would burn in our apartment. Now when I burn the same incense, I am immediately stuck with nostalgia and feel like I’m back in Yaounde.
4. Educate Yourself On The Culture Of Your New Country
While it can be comforting to surround yourself with people who are also from your home country, it’s crucial to not get sucked into it. You didn’t travel across an entire ocean just to replicate your surroundings from home. Educating yourself on the culture of your new country and forcing yourself to explore and learn about your new surroundings will definitely ease the culture shock and make you feel more at home.
5. Remind Yourself That This Is Now Your Home
Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once said, “I dislike feeling at home when I’m abroad.” While it’s normal to feel homesick and want to surround yourself with any and everything that reminds you of home, you are setting yourself up for failure unless you perpetually want to feel like an outsider in your new country. Obviously, you will always be a foreigner and you cannot strip yourself of your identity and the culture you grow up with. But don’t stunt your growth by only hanging around other members of your community; this is your new home, and the only way it will actually become ‘home’ to you is if you get out there and familiarize yourself with your new community and surroundings.