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6 Tips for Surviving Homesickness as an Expat

6 Tips for Surviving Homesickness as an Expat

Today we have a guest post by Alex Johnson from Currency UK.

You’ve spent months planning and preparing for the big move abroad. You’ve applied for visas, found a new home and schools for the kids, started learning the language and spent hours on expat forums and blogs.

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Finally, you step off the plane and leap into your new life. But there’s one thing that threatens to get in the way: homesickness.

Homesickness is a very common affliction. Almost every expat experiences a twinge of nostalgia for the comforts of home. It’s very likely you’ll miss family and friends, but you might also miss your favourite foods, TV shows or familiar faces at the gym.

In its mildest form homesickness is nothing to worry about and often passes quickly. But for some people, especially very young or sensitive children, it can be severe and quite disruptive.

Fortunately, homesickness can be easily managed with a little self-care and awareness. We’ve put together some tips to help. Think of it as an expat survival kit:

1: Mentally Prepare Yourself

It’s important to prepare yourself for the reality of homesickness before you even leave home. Know that even the most unsentimental individual or hardened traveller will likely experience it.

Assume that you will – at some point – feel homesick. Then if (or more likely, when) it hits, you won’t feel blindsided.

Pack things that remind you of home; photos, letters from loved ones, a cosy blanket, favorite snack foods, magazines, perhaps a newspaper from the day you left. When you need a little pick-me-up, these items will guarantee some smiles.

personal-260577_12802 : Stay in Touch

Is there anyone in the Western world not yet on Facebook? Social media has made the world feel like a smaller, better connected place and it’s great for combating homesickness.

If you don’t already have an account, sign up before you leave – it’s a really easy way to keep in constant contact with friends and family all over the world. Twitter and Instagram are wonderful for this too.

Make a plan to call home once a week. Schedule Skype dates with loved ones; it’s free if you call another Skype user so you don’t have to worry about rocketing phone bills. Video chat is a blessing; there’s nothing quite like seeing a friendly face – even if it is on a screen.

3: Book Flights Home

If money and time permits, fly home when you can. Homesickness often strikes when we’re missing out – on birthdays, Christmas or other special occasions – so make these a priority for returning to familiar soil.

If you’re moving to the other side of the world you may only be able to fly home once or twice a year. Consider booking these flights well in advance, it gives you something to look forward to and will help keep homesickness at bay.

4: Don’t Wallow

tourists-793814_1920While you’re sat on the sofa looking at old photographs of your friends back home you’re missing out on great experiences in your new country.

Allow yourself a little time to feel homesick, but don’t wallow in your grief – it will only make you feel worse. Force yourself to get up, get dressed and get out. Join the local gym, take a class (bonus points for language classes – you might meet fellow expats), check out the tourist spots, go to the local bar… just do something fun.

5: Make New Friends

This is probably one of the most daunting prospects of moving abroad. But having a network of friends in your new country will help you integrate and settle much quicker. You’re going to have to put yourself out there.

The best way to meet new people abroad is at expat clubs. There are hundreds of these clubs all over the world; here is a list of some of them.

If there isn’t a club in your local area, start one. There’s bound to fellow expats looking for a badminton partner or someone to sample the local wine with.

If you want to befriend some locals, try joining an amateur sports team or signing up for yoga. Baby and toddler groups, the school playground, restaurants and cafes are also great places to meet people. Be friendly and open – people respond well to a smiley face.

6: Create a Routine

Moving abroad is an exercise in change. You’ll notice differences in almost every area of your life. Your working hours, eating habits and social life may change. The way you shop, do chores and run errands (like seeing the doctor or getting a haircut) might differ. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

If you can settle into a routine, you’ll soon feel much more comfortable. Especially important is a set routine for sleeping and eating. Try to go to bed and wake at the same time every day (at least during the work week) and have set times for meals. This will be particularly helpful if you have children.

Work and school will determine how you spend much of your day, but plan some activities for the evening and weekends. According to Ryan Rivera, writing for the Go Overseas blog, “Research shows that those that feel they’re in more control suffer from less homesickness stress.”

It’s natural – and healthy – to feel a little homesick, but it shouldn’t ruin the experience of a lifetime. Following our tips above will help reduce the impact of homesickness and ensure your move abroad is a smooth one. For more advice on integrating into a new community, read this post.

 

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Moving to Germany – via TakeLessons

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Moving to Germany – via TakeLessons

This article originally appeared on TakeLessons.com. Brooke Neuman is a German and Italian editor at TakeLessons, an online marketplace that connects thousands of teachers and students for local and live online language lessons.

moving to germany

Are you planning a big move to Germany? Whether you’re moving because you got a new job or you’re simply looking for an adventure, moving to Germany can be scary.

In addition to being thousands of miles away from your closest friends and family, you’re in a country where people speak an unfamiliar language and live by a completely different set of rules.

While your first reaction might be to fall into a fit of panic, there’s no need to be overwhelmed. There’s a ton of helpful and informative information available.

To help make the transition a little less daunting, we’ve interviewed several expats who’ve made the big move to Germany. Check out the helpful advice they had to share with us below:

1. Learn the Language Beforehand

moving to germany

“In Germany, German is taught German to German, unless you get a private tutor. I would advise taking a course in your own country to get a base,” says Adriana Kroeller of Changing Plate.

There are many different ways in which you can learn German, whether you choose in-person or online lessons. Whichever you choose, it’s important that you learn some basic German before your big move to help smooth the transition.

2. Everyone Rides a Bike

moving to germany

In Germany, the preferred mode of transportation is biking. In fact, Germany ranked amongst the top five EU countries where people cycle most, according to a survey. When asked what mode of transportation they use most often, 8% of the 27,000 people surveyed in the 28 EU Member States answered ‘bicycle.’

Each town, city, and state has different laws concerning bicycles, and laws are strictly enforced. So before moving to Germany, it’s might be a good idea to brush up on the biking laws in the area in which you’ll be moving.

3. Most German Stereotypes Aren’t True

moving to germany

“Despite their reputations for being cold, Germans are usually very helpful. You just have to ask.  I was very shy when I first arrived, and I think that made things much more difficult,” says Jennifer of American Faultier.

While Germans aren’t ones for small-talk, they are actually quite friendly and willing to help. Therefore, don’t be afraid to ask questions—no matter how mundane they may seem.

4. Kiss Your Sunday Routine Goodbye

moving to germany

In the U.S., people will spend their Sundays checking off the many tasks on their to-do lists, such as mowing the lawn, vacuuming the house, and going grocery shopping.

In Germany, Sundays are Ruhetag or “day of rest.” Neighbors are expected to keep quiet and all grocery and other retail stores are closed with the exception of churches, Biergartens, and gas stations.

5. Learning German Isn’t as Easy as You Think

moving to germany

“I think the one thing that would’ve saved me a lot of tears and frustration is if I had realized that stumbling your way through basic social interactions in German is an expat rite of passage. Fluency will take a lot longer than you think,” says Caitlin Travis of Life as an Auslander.

“In my experience, Germans know how hard their language is and they’re more than happy to slow down, listen patiently, and help you fix all your grammatical mistakes. They appreciate your effort.”

6. Start Your Search for Accommodations Early

moving to germany

It can be difficult to find inexpensive accommodations throughout Germany, especially in the major cities like Munich.

“There are lots of things that surprised me about moving to Munich, for one it’s not at all easy to find somewhere to live, it can take months.  If you are moving here with a company life’s a lot easier if you find a relocation agent beforehand,” said Emma of A Bavarian Sojourn.

“Munich is popular for a reason, it’s a great place to work, but even better to live.  Where else can you find a city with so much on its doorstep?”

So, before moving to Germany it’s important to start your search early on. If you want to be extra cautious, you might even want to find accommodation before you arrive in Germany.

7. Germans Can Be Very Direct

moving to germany

“There are tons of things I wish I knew before I moved to Germany. The biggest, however, would have to be researching a bit more about Germans themselves. There are a lot of ways Germans carry themselves and act, which for me was a bit shocking in the beginning. For example, almost all Germans are very direct when speaking with or about something/someone,” said Derek of The Migrant Expats.

“See we Americans are raised in a culture filled with sugar-coated statements that only hint at the truth, especially when talking about something we dislike. The Germans are the complete opposite. This isn’t to say Germans are intentionally mean. Rather quite the contrary. Being unabashedly direct is considered polite and is just a cultural difference. I still find myself getting offended every now and again, but honestly, I’ve gotten used to it…for the most part.”

 8. Germans Take Recycling Very Seriously

moving to germany

Germany is Europe’s leader in all things green. Residents are very vigilant about recycling their trash—so much so that they might give you a dirty look if they catch you placing a plastic bottle in the wrong bin.

There are tons of recycling rules that can be confusing for newbie recyclers to understand. So be sure to acquaint yourself with the all of the guidelines. And when in doubt, just ask your next door neighbor!

9. The Paperwork

moving to germany

“I wish I’d known more about the bureaucratic process that one needs to follow upon moving to Germany. I naively thought that once my visa was approved, that’s all I’d need to do. I had no clue about having to register your address with the bürgeramt to get the official paper that allows you to open a bank account, get a cell phone contract etc.,” said Cheryl Howard of cherylhoward.com.

“I’d recommend that anyone who’s moving to Germany read up in advance on how to go about doing this. It may seem overwhelming if you don’t know any German, but that’s why learning German before you get here comes in handy.”

10. Germans Are Proud of Their Culture

moving to germany

Whether they’re from Munich, Berlin, or Hamburg, Germans are extremely proud of what region they come from and uphold long-time traditions.

“What’s one last thing you should know that I perhaps love about this area the most?  How proud Bavarians are of their traditions, much more so than we Brits,” said Emma.

“Here everything is celebrated from bringing the cows down from the mountains at the end of the summer, the bier, the harvests, spring, and of course the glorious Christmas markets. And a lot of the time they dress up to celebrate – tracht isn’t just worn for Oktoberfest!”

Moving to Germany–or any foreign country–can be extremely stressful. Follow the advice above to help make your move less strenuous and more enjoyable.

Have you moved to Germany? If so, share your best advice for moving to Germany below.

 

Guest Post – Bailie Hemborg

Guest Post – Bailie Hemborg

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been missing lately! I’m currently in the United States, recovering from my wedding and a week of leading around sight-seeing Germans. Thankfully, I have a guest post for you all so there won’t been two whole weeks of complete silence. I was a bit too optimistic about posting while here!  So, without further ado, a word from a lovely guest poster about the things she misses from America!

 

Hello! I am Bailie from The Hemborg Wife and I am so excited to be joining you here today!

After being in an international relationship for 7 years I have my set items that I always pick up when we are in the US and I thought I would share them with you today! These are things that are easy to find in California but impossible to find in small town Sweden or so expensive I just pretend they do not exist!

Source: Makeup Alley
Source: Makeup Alley

Any and all St. Ives scrubs will do for me! I have been using this product since I was in high school and every Sunday and Wednesday I am an exfoliating maniac. I am so excited that when we move to the UK I will be able to buy it at my local drugstore and it will not be taking up suitcase space any more!

Sam's Club Beef Jerky
Source: Sam’s Club

This is the best brand of beef jerky ever ever ever and when we go to California we usually eat about 3 of the big bags and bring two home with us! I know so much salt but o how heavenly it is!

Maybelline Great Lash
Source: Amazon

This is another product I have been using since high school and in California I can get three THREE for the price of one in Sweden so I always stock up!

Aquafresh
Source: Amazon

So this one may seem super weird because Sweden obviously has toothpaste but none I have tried have the feeling on this Aquafresh one! I love it so much and obsess over how great I think it is whenever I get some and then am so sad when it is all out!

Books

I am really that the Sundsvall library has an English section but it does take them a fair while to get new books in so I always get a few, or as many as I can shove into my suitcase without going over in weight into my suitcase!

Toms

Lastly I bring you shoes!!! Just this summer I saw TOMS being sold in Sweden but I have been buying them in California and bringing them home with me for years as they are my absolute favorite! I will let you in on a secret I have a not worn pair in my closet right now just waiting for the current pair I am using to bite the dust!

What do you think am I being crazy or would you also lug these things along with you?

To see more of the things I love and Swedish scenery follow me along on Instagram!

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