So this morning while scrolling through Facebook two adverts popped up for companies offering therapy and counselling services for expats. When I saw it I thought emigrating isn’t that bad. Then I started to remember what it was like 16 years ago, sat in a flat in Joburg alone and yes, yes it was that bad. I was lucky to have a small support network around me and my In-laws are Irish so they knew what I was going through and that definitely helped.
I felt guilt for leaving my loved ones behind, I felt fear of not knowing how things work, I felt lonely and unsure of myself. How do I make friends? how do I get a job? (this one is pretty simple actually but when you’re uncertain and overwhelmed it feels like a mammoth task). Dealing with Visa’s and officials that really don’t want you in the country doesn’t help either. The worst thing of all is homesickness. It’s a very real physical yearning pain. Most of us have experienced homesickness to a varying degree depending on where you moved to and how long you were away. There really is no place like home! Home is where your memories are made and who you are is formed.
Now I’m sure you’re asking yourself “what on earth is this? I come here for encouragement not to feel miserable!” well I’m here to tell you that it gets easier and the homesickness gets less frequent and doesn’t last as long as time goes by. You just have to ride it out! After a while you will make friends, you get a job, you get your paperwork sorted. You just have to accept it’s an inevitable part of moving abroad, so buckle up for a bumpy ride, it will all be worth it in the end.
All I can say is thank goodness for social media! I know it has it’s down sides but how else would I keep up to date with friends and family back home?. When I first got here there was dial up internet (shudder) and letters. It’s not the same I know, but FaceTime and Whatsapp calls are like a little lifeline. Use them, call home as much as you can it really helps. If you are reading this because you have someone who lives oversea then send them a message, reach out to them, they will appreciate it!
Take off the nostalgic rose tinted glasses. I was watching Keeping Up Appearances and they were at the Jaguar Garage in Abington Square. In that moment I would have given anything to be back there it looked like paradise. I sat and cried with homesickness, then eventually I remember that I avoided Abington Square like the plague because thats where all the drunks hung out and harassed you when you walked past! When I get homesick I talk to a friend and remind myself why I left in the first place. Im not saying you must only remember the bad stuff I’m just saying be realistic.
This is the hardest one to do… don’t close yourself off! There are loads of forums online for Expats to chat about what they are going through. When someone starts up a conversation then engage in that little bit of small talk (I know, I know I hate small talk too but you have to start somewhere!) My mum and husband are amazing at this, I am rubbish at it but I try. I remember feeling like I don’t want to talk to these people, they are strange, they don’t know me, they don’t know where I come from and I am not interested in talking to anyone! it really didn’t serve me. I just closed myself off from potential friendships and opportunities. So if people are trying to reach out to you then let them you never know where it might lead.
You may have noticed these tips are pretty short. That’s because I am still trying to figure it out myself. Homesickness is hard to deal with but these few tips help me and if I find any other way of dealing with it that works I will let you know.
Thank you for joining me again!
Bye for now.