Giving homesickness the boot
March 16, 2007 7:46 AM   Subscribe

How to alleviate homesickness? Extra difficulty: first time out, alone.

I'm not looking for a cure, just something to comfort me a little. Here's the background. I'm 22 and I've just made a move to the Chicagoland area from South Florida to finish my BA (I'm a junior). I did my first two years of school locally, took a break for various reasons after graduation a year and a half ago, and for the past year have been working a full-time job that I love with people I adore. I've lived at home throughout.

I'm still working for the company at our second location in Chicago. I'm constantly in contact with the people from my old location (we're a small company, we do much interoffice).

But I miss work. I miss my co-workers. I do miss my family and having a house with people in it too (I'm living in a one bedroom apt alone).

Still, everything's great and coming together in terms of logistics... I have a wonderful place to live and all the things I could need, but I get very sad thinking about my friends/co-workers and my family. I don't like that my thoughts are traveling often to how soon I'll see certain people again or how this is "only temporary."

I know it'll get easier with time. It's just tough. What can I do to comfort myself during the transition?
posted by Meifa to Human Relations (15 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Don't stay inside, alone, pining after people you can't see.

Seriously, ask your new co-workers to show you good places to eat, or hang out or whatever - take advantage of their local knowledge to start building a new life for yourself. Go out in the evening and find new cafes to sit and read in, look up interesting activities or museums to go to, or even find some activity groups to join. In short, don't wait for life to come to you - seek it out, grab hold of it, and enjoy everything your new locale has to offer.
posted by canine epigram at 8:06 AM on March 16, 2007

I was in a similar situation when I first moved to London. The main things I did which helped were:
1. find people/groups locally that made me feel like I belonged in the new place. That does take time, and you have to make an effort. Try to do something other than hang out with your - I did qwork colleagues, unless they are genuinely your friends.
2. go back to visit the place you feel is home fairly regularly. Don't make it into a "I must tough it out in this new place until I like it" situation. Or invite people down to where you are.

If you don't like that empty apartment feeling, consider moving to a 2 bed and getting a room-mate. That one's a real trade off though - finding a compatible flatmate, then you have their foibles to put up with. On balance I found I preferred living with another person than not, but ymmv.
posted by crocomancer at 8:06 AM on March 16, 2007

It might help to think of this as a permanant move so you're not just looking forward to going home all the time...

How about going out with your new colleagues? If they're nice...tell them you're new to the area/don't know many people or what to do. If they socialise outside the office that's a good way to make new friends. I've always found the only thing that gets me over homesickness is hanging out with people.
posted by cardamine at 8:07 AM on March 16, 2007

Some sort of weird cut and paste thing there. Should just say "hang out with your work colleagues" without the "- I did q" bit in the middle.
posted by crocomancer at 8:09 AM on March 16, 2007

You'll probably find that you get the most homesick when you're home alone, so try to distract yourself as much as possible.
Go for walks, join a gym, get a dog, a new hobby, discover your new city, make new friends.
You can't (and don't want to) replace what you had back home, but what you can do is create a Chicago life for yourself that you'll forward to getting back to whenever you visit your family in Florida.
I've been through something similar, and the best way that I found to get through the tough first few months was to really embrace the change.
posted by snoogles at 8:09 AM on March 16, 2007

What activities were you involved in back home - chances are you can get involved in similar things at your new location.

Seriously - get busy exploring your new location, get involved with your local community and you will be too busy to be homesick!

The worst thing you can do is get into 'this is only temporary' frame of mind - that stops you from building up new networks...even if you don't intend your stay to be permanent. You never know - your circumstances might change and you may stay for much longer than you think.
posted by koahiatamadl at 8:18 AM on March 16, 2007

I would definitely make an effort to meet more people & start making friends. I know that this is easier said & done, but make an effort to put yourself out there - invite coworkers out to lunch, take some classes, etc.

You also might want to consider getting a pet like a cat or dog, so you have at least a furry family member to come home to.
posted by tastybrains at 8:18 AM on March 16, 2007

What everyone else has said, plus you can use this time to do things that you've always wanted to do but haven't had time for--such as train for a marathon, take a cooking class, learn to knit, volunteer at the animal shelter--whatever. You can take a class or join a group to work toward your goal. That way, you'll meet people with similar interests and feel like you're doing something that's important to you.
posted by BluGnu at 8:21 AM on March 16, 2007

I've found that if you take up Ultimate Frisbee AND Dungeons & Dragons, you need never fear not being able to make friends in a new city. You can always track down a group of like-minded folks who enjoy your particular pursuits. Hook up with them and start socializing to fill your spare hours.

Also, if you want to stay in touch with the homefront, you've got your email, web cams, old-fashioned letters, phone calls, et cetera. And why not bust out a camcorder and make a video about your new home?
posted by Midnight Creeper at 8:54 AM on March 16, 2007

I second what people are saying above - when I first went to college, I was so busy with classes and extracurricular activities and social activities that I just didn't have the time or the focus to be homesick. I don't know if it's the best prescription for everyone, but I really find that having a lot to focus on and get done prevents me from having mental time to wallow.
posted by cadge at 9:13 AM on March 16, 2007

I'm made this move a couple times: going somewhere completely new where I knew next to no one. Here's the thing: in a way, homesickness is grief. You've lost something you hold dear, and you long to have it back.

As with grief, it lessens with time. In the meantime, you need to find ways, as everyone above said, to keep yourself busy. You need local socialization. Real human contact is something that is required to keep us heatlhy and happy.

When I first moved to the Chicago area, I found alot of fun people through meetups. There are lots of groups in Chicagoland, and I bet you could find some folks you can get along with if you search for meetups you may be interested in. Catalog your hobbies and interests and search for those.

You have the third largest city in the country at your disposal. Explore it. Few things make the pain of missing your old haunts more bearable than finding favorite new ones. There will be some things you will never replace, but you'll find new favorites, too. Even if you're living in the suburbs (you say Chicagoland rather than Chicago itself, so I assume this is the case), you need to find ways to get into the city, too.

If nothing else, my fiancee and I are both newish to the area as well, about your age (27 and 26) and we'd be happy to show you around a bit and introduce you to some people you might like. Email address is in my profile. Contact me any time, and good luck! :)
posted by jammer at 9:15 AM on March 16, 2007

Yeah, a MeFi meetup sure couldn't hurtcha.
posted by hermitosis at 10:18 AM on March 16, 2007

I second getting a pet. Would keep you busy and distracted while you acclimate, and give you a great companion to come home to. In addition, pets are great discussion starters/common interests, and they get you out of the house. Regulars at dog parks, for example, often get very friendly.

Also, I don't know where you live, but at your age, hanging out around colleges might be a good way to make friends and distract yourself from what you're missing. Cafes in Evanston and near any of the numerous Chicagoland campuses are full of friendly, young people who randomly strike up conversations with each other.

Also, as summer in Chicago approaches, the city really opens up. Do you play volleyball or any other beach sports? People congregate on the lake beaches to play and it seems like a really great place to meet people. Chicago people are super-friendly and it's a really wonderful city. I think you'll really like it here!
posted by walla at 11:33 AM on March 16, 2007

Come to the Chicago MeFi meetups if you can. We'd love to see you. You too, jammer!
posted by halonine at 6:54 PM on March 16, 2007

Leave apartment
Turn off electronics
Find fun thing to do
Do fun thing to do
Have fun
Say "Hi."
Seek advice
Offer to repay w/
-- beer or meal or backrub
Get contact info
Say bye
Call and ask if they want to do something fun
posted by bigmusic at 11:40 PM on March 16, 2007

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