Remedies for Homesickness
Traveling is a wonderful way to learn. Going abroad has opened my eyes and heart to different lifestyles, cultures, and ways of thinking. Moving to Italy has taught me so much and everyday my life here challenges me to be a better, stronger, and more confident person.
At times being away from the known can be difficult, and I think it’s normal to miss aspects of where we are from fairly regularly. For instance, at least once a month I miss 24 hour drug stores. Here in Turin, Italy, everything closes at 7:30/8:00pm and sometimes that is just too early! I miss having that convenience all the time. I miss slang, and always feel like a ninety-year-old catching up on the latest trends when I call my friends back home. I miss being able to talk without worrying if what I said was grammatically correct or not. I hate that I speak with such a strong accent, and that I still cannot express myself as clearly as I can in my first language. However much Italians will hate that I am saying this, I miss Starbucks. I miss coffee shops where I can take my computer and sit and work for hours with my venti caramel macchiato with soy milk. Oh and don’t get me started on how much I miss brunching! Of course, these things are manageable and in the big scheme just moments where I feel a ting of longing for my home.
There are other time, when the homesickness kicks in and feels unbearable. Most of all when I’m a bit sick or after I’ve had a bad day, and I feel like a little girl again and all I want is my mom to run her fingers through my hair and tell me it’s alrights, or to curl up next to a good friend who has known me for years and will understand exactly what is going on without me needing to say one word. These are the hard times. Fortunately, these moments crop up less often now, and overtime, I have figured out ways to handle homesickness, and with doing so, Italy has begun to transform into my home.
For any of you who are feeling a bit alone on your travels, here are my pick-me-up tricks to deal with homesickness:
1. Go for a run:
I am not a runner, in fact I rather detest running normally. I find it monotonous. With that being said, when I first moved to Puglia I didn’t know anyone, and everywhere I went I was overwhelmed trying to understand a language I had never studies. Running became my escape. I wouldn’t go far but I would go every single morning. I found this gave me time to clear my head, as well as an added kick of endorphins to wake me up and start my day feeling a bit happier when I was missing my loved ones.
2. Call home:
Of course it is not the same as meeting up with a close friend for a cup of coffee, and virtual hugs definitely aren’t as rib-crushingly filled with love as the real deal, but luckily now it’s fairly easy to call internationally. I’m a huge fan of FaceTime and WhatsApp for calling. Skype is also another great way to call. Due to time differences it can be difficult to find the right time. I’ve learned over my years abroad, it is best to message friends or family to schedule a time that works best for both of us, that way I put it straight into my agenda, so I won’t forget and we will be sure to get ahold of one another.
3. Eat a Sweet:
When I’m feeling mopey and the after-run endorphins aren’t enough, I indulge my sweet tooth! I mean there has to be some sense in this because Tiramisù literally means “pick me up”! (side note: this might now work it may just be an excuse for me to eat cake)
4. Read a book or watch a favorite tv show:
There have been many moments where I have gotten overwhelmed living in another language and want the familiarity of home, these moments turning to a favorite T.V. Series or opening a good book (Harry Potter is my go to) help me feel more comfortable and at ease no matter where I am. The characters feel like old friends and distracting me from my homesickness!
5. Force yourself to meet new people:
No matter how hard it may seem go and meet new people! Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with a stranger. Naturally, I am an introvert, so initially this task seemed quite daunting. After my first couple weeks alone I craved friendships, and so I became more courageous and outgoing. I’d start conversations in a broken Italian with anyone and was so pleased to hear any small amount of English. I met wonderful people, and I’ve gotten over my shyness and find it easier to strike up conversations with anyone. Social media can also be a great way to meet new people, there are expat groups on facebook and a site called meetup where you can get to know people with similar interests. Personally, I would recommend trying to meet as many locals as possible! As an expat, it can be easy to stick to a clique of people from your own culture who speak your own language, but making local friends has helped me understand the culture better, learn the language, and start to grow my own roots in Italy.
*End note: As I reflect on my life abroad and the moments I have missed home, I’d like to give a shoutout to all the beautiful Italians who have helped me find a sense of belonging in Italy! Thank you for teaching me the language, for your patients as I stumble through sentences. Thanks for caring about me and for all the amazing food some of you have forced me to eat (Francesca and Lorenzo). Thank you for being open-minded, and for attempting to explain your bureaucracy. Thanks for being my Italian family and home away from home!
Happy traveling everyone and remember you’re never too far from home or a great new friend! Let us know how you deal with homesickness, any tips or tricks?