Living Abroad: Dealing With Homesickness and Culture Shock

Living abroad can be one of the most exciting and enriching experiences there is. Not only will you expand your worldview and learn valuable skills that can help you navigate the world better overall, you can learn a lot about yourself and grow tremendously.

But, like other aspects of life, with the sweet always comes the sour, and there may be times when you are not loving the experience so much. At first, everything is new and exciting—all the ‘quirks’ and differences are interesting and a source of joy for you. But, as someone who is sticking around for awhile, and not a tourist passing through, these differences can become a real pain point for you. It is no longer fascinating, but highly frustrating. You may begin to long for the familiarity of home. You feel a bit disconnected and disoriented.

You are not alone in this. Here are just a few tips to ease the discomfort.

Know What You are Feeling is Okay

This acceptance of what is happening is a big help in dealing with your feelings  more effectively. One of the biggest reasons culture shock bothers us is because we kind of had this idea that every second of this experience would be awesome, and when this illusion gets shattered, it can really bring us down. It isn’t until we are in a foreign country for an extended period that we realize how much of our life is influenced by the norms of the culture in which we grew up.

It is understandable we would feel lost, or get frustrated by things that don’t seem to make sense to us or that we are not used to. Accepting your emotions can go a long way in removing that extra layer of distress that simply comes with feeling badly.

Do Things that Make You Feel Connected to Home

Thriving in a foreign environment long-term and getting the most out of the experience doesn’t require us to cut all ties to anything familiar. Sure, if you have all this wonderful food around, you don’t want to spend every day in McDonald’s. You don’t want to spend all your time watching TV online in lieu of exploring your new land.

But, sometimes it is these very things that can make us feel better, and it is good to embrace them. If you are from the States and are missing the plethora of entertainment available to you, you can watch American Netflix with Smart DNS and a variety of other services that allow you to bypass restrictions based on foreign IP addresses.

Find some bars popular with expats from your country or other Westerners.

Focus on the Good

There is no utopia. Every culture has things that are great about it, and things that may seem not so great. You are just realizing this now. Perspective is everything in life. You can choose to focus on the good things about your new country. You may still not like the other stuff, but when you are not giving it your full attention, it doesn’t bother you as much.