How to deal with homesickness while living abroad? (And when can I give in to it and go home?
December 21, 2009 5:32 PM Subscribe
I've been happily living abroad for three months, and all of a sudden I'm extremely homesick and I want to come home. I want to get past this, but how?
posted by inatizzy to Travel & Transportation (26 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
(Apologies for the length. It's a complicated issue for me. The questions are at the end. Thanks. :)
I've been living in Buenos Aires for 3 months now, fulfilling a long-time dream to live abroad. I'm settled in with a small group of friends I see a few times a week (fellow swing dancers), moving to an apartment with two nice roommates this week, and I've pretty much moved past the just-moved-here distractions and into regular, mundane life.
So for the past week, I've been hit by intense, depression-level homesickness. I'm missing my family the most I have in many years, probably because I'm in the thick of spending my first Christmas ever away from my hometown and my family, which is very sad and a even a little scary for me. (It is too expensive to go back, and I knew that when I decided to come here.) Christmas is not religious for us, but it's a ritual that is the cornerstone of my year. We come together and it wraps up this year and starts off the next one. To stave off the loneliness, I've been good about making plans with friends for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and I will video Skype with my family.
Despite this, the homesickness persists. I cycle between feeling normal and feeling really down. The down time is usually in the afternoon, when I'm home alone and the long, lonely day is stretched out ahead of me. The up time is usually in the evening and night when I have plans. (Or even tonight, when I don't!) What I'm going through now reminds me of the way my mood cycled one summer, seven years ago, when I had major depression. Overall I feel more stable and happy now than then, during my "up" times, but the down times are similar. I'm sad, filled with hopelessness and grief, and I cry so hard that I practically burst out of my skin. My perspective gets skewed and I don't believe any of the logic behind my decision to live here. I get desperate and I just want to end the pain and be home with my family RIGHT NOW. (Even though Mom & I both agree that really, this should be a good experience for our family to go experience a Christmas when one of us isn't there.)
During the ups I feel pretty normal and in agreement with the logic that brought me here to live. But I do feel more tired, emotionally and physically, and I just don't have as much energy to be enthusiastic about things. (Usually I'm quite bubbly and smiley.) My friends notice and have been asking me if I'm OK, even when I'm in the best part of my day.
The whole thing is making me question how long I want to or should stay here. I came here to improve my Spanish and to live internationally for awhile. (So that I will have had that life experience.) When I'm feeling up, I have the strength to keep pushing on towards those goals but when I'm down, I don't care anymore. I just want to be home. I want to give up trying to stay strong. In both states of mind I am looking forward to settling into a community for the long term and working my way up in a new career path (community organizing or something similar). These are things I've been looking forward to since before I left and in fact they inspired me to live abroad because I wasn't ready to settle down until I did this first.
I'm sorry for writing so much here. I guess what I'm looking for here is some insight and guidance from people who've been through this before. Why did homesickness hit, what did you miss, and how did you cope with it? Do you have advice for me as I try to overcome it? Both during the holidays, and in general? And at what point is it OK to decide to go home? I don't want to give up too soon but I also don't want to be unnecessarily hard on myself and force myself to stay here unhappily. Thanks in advance for any advice.