- On 10 October 2018
- Tags TEFL Florence
Fighting Homesickness Abroad
Moving abroad for an extended period of time takes courage! You pack up your bags, fly to a land far away, and declare that this new city in this new country is home for a while. It is truly an exhilirating experience with something new behind every literal and figurative corner. With this mystere, though, comes one of our biggest battles abroad: homesickness. Homesickness has a pretty negative connotation and I suppose it deserves to as it actually has the word “sick” in it. Being homesick is something to embrace and be proud of, though. Being homesick means you have a wonderful life full of familiarity back home, but it also means you are pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, which always means there is a big reward on the other side.
Let’s be honest, though. As much as it’s wonderful to push ourselves, it can be really tough. It can be enough to make you want to jump back on that return flight early and forget about the whole reason you decided to come in the first place. Whatever you do, don’t do it. I have personally dealt with homesickness and I have expat friends, colleagues, and know many Via Lingua trainees that have dealt with it, too. Here are some things we have have done to deal with it and ultimately reap the rewards of experiencing life abroad.
One of the unique things about taking a course like TEFL abroad is that you automatically find yourself in a room full of people who have either just made the same move you have or have at one time in their lives. Many people also like to bring things from home: photos, notes, and other little tokens. Before you get on that plane, make sure you know how you are going to stay in touch with your friends and family back home. Luckily, we live in a world now where we can connect with our loved ones on a video call in a matter of seconds.
Most importantly, you have to stay positive and stay open-minded to your new surroundings, culture, and the local people. Explore your city, travel to surrounding cities, and really dive in. Find a favorite coffee shop or restaurant where you can become a “regular”. Interact with the local people in whichever way is comfortable for you. I was not and am still not one to go make friends randomly so I know that can be daunting for some, especially in a new country with potentially a new lanugage! However, interacting with locals can simply mean using basic phrases to ask questions in a shop or ordering your meals. We might have different backgrounds, cultures, customs, and languages, but we are all people and by nature we all want to make other human connections.
Stick with it and before you know it, you’ll be complaining about all the “tourists” in your new city because you won’t feel like one anymore. You’ll become an ambassador of cultural awareness as you go on to “teach” about this culture to the new people in town. In the big picture, whether you decide to stay abroad or go back home, you will be a stronger, better, and more tolerant person because you decided that the thought of staying “comfortable” at home was actually not comfortable at all.