Nancy B. Varghese
It was back in 2011 that I first stepped out into the world, after years of warmth, love, and absolute comfort of my home. I put on a brave face in front of my parents as they waved goodbye, but cried myself to sleep the first night I spent alone in my hostel room. I missed home so bad, I thought I’d never be happy again. Jumping forward to present day, 6 years after the fateful night, I am incredibly proud of my younger self for having done it! It wasn’t easy at all, and I thought I’d never get over it. But here are a couple of things that helped me reduce homesickness when I started living in a new country.
Yes, it may seem like the most difficult thing to do on the planet, but believe me, FOMO is very real for a lot of people. Your sadness is going to make you feel a lot worse as you glance through your insta stories, or scroll through your Facebook page, and see what your friends back home are up to.
Similar to one you had back home! It’s easier to avoid homesickness when you have a designated time to do your chores, your assignments, your work, etc, as doing those tasks will distract you from thinking about home, and even make you more productive as you acclimatise yourself!
A change of place definitely calls for a change of flavours on your palate. Step outside and talk to people; ask them where you can find good local cuisine and dishes that you think you’ll enjoy. It may not seem like a big deal, but food can do wonders to your mood, especially when you’re feeling down in the dumps.
It doesn’t need to be immediate. Maybe chalk out a rough plan of when you can see them next, or look up holidays when they can come visit you, and plan an outline of these occasions. Not only is it going to brighten your mood instantly, you now have a solid incentive to stay bright and cheery, and even look forward to their trip!
It can be a little something that you spotted on your way to work that day, or a beautiful piece of fabric that you came across as you were surfing the web. Nothing beats surprising your loved ones with a package or two, and hearing their excited voices over the phone, reminding you that you can spread joy even when you’re not around them.
It can definitely get overwhelming at first to go out and meet new people, working your way up to the perfect comfort level with them, but you gotta do it! The words ‘stick to’ is important, because it’s very easy to cancel plans with people you’ve just met; it takes a lot of dedication and effort to keep the friendship going, but once there, your support system is going to be your home away from home.
You know the warm, comforting smell when you walk into the kitchen to find your mum cooking your favourite dish? Several studies have proven that certain scents like these can trigger memories and experiences you have associated with them in the past. What better way to relive happy memories than calling up mum and recreating your favourites in the kitchen, from scratch?
You need your happy high when gloomy clouds your brain and makes you sad about not being at home. Grab your pair of sneakers and just start running or jogging on a track or in a park nearby, taking in the fresh air into your lungs and feeling the endorphins rush to your head. You’ll be surprised how helpful even a 20-minute run can be to your mood!
It is definitely going to seem like the safest option, given the stress of moving to a new country, starting relationships with people from scratch, and managing your entire life away from the comfort of your bubble back home. But don’t give in to it! Go out and explore sights, visit monuments, eat amazing food, pick up a hobby, or just walk around the city discovering things to do!
Rest assured, you’re going to be just fine, and perhaps even pleasantly surprised months and years down the line, when you look back at the times you missed home that bad. And until then, chin up, and power through. You got this!
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