Moving to a new country – or even travelling for long periods – is a thrilling adventure. The anticipation of new things to see, new people to meet and a brand new, often very different, lifestyle is part of the excitement when you are making all the plans. Then you arrive and it is all so new and fresh. Wow, what a wonderful new world of possibilities! Until … homesickness starts to become a problem.

The first thing you need to know is that homesickness is normal. If you moved to a new country, or spent a lot of time somewhere new, and did not feel homesick, you might ask yourself why. After all, you spent most of your life in your homeland and now you have given it up to be somewhere else that may be completely foreign. For many people, dealing with homesickness is one of the inevitable consequences of not being in your home country.

When you first arrive, you are busy, confused, tired, eager to explore and you just want to see, taste, visit and do everything you possibly can. It is this busyness that keeps homesickness at bay. It is like a honeymoon period. When you first get married, it is all so exciting and wonderful, but eventually, ‘real life’ takes over and there is an adjustment period. With homesickness, it kind of means the ‘honeymoon’ is over, but once you get through it, you will feel more at home than ever before.

Homesickness means that you have realised you are now in a different place, either permanently or for an extended time. It means you probably miss home and family and all your familiar places, people and things. But if you have chosen to travel or live in Australia, eventually you will want to stop missing those things so painfully and instead, think about them with fondness. Being homesick is the transition stage!

The first thing is to remember that it is usually a temporary phase. Of course, there are people who ultimately return home forever because they cannot endure the feelings of loss anymore. This would be extreme homesickness and for someone who feels that way, going home is probably the best decision they could make.

If, however, you are feeling homesick and would rather get through it so you can feel happier to stay, then there are a few things you can do to deal with it.

  1. Have a good cry from time to time. If it helps to look at pictures of home, eat your favourite food from home or talk with someone special you left behind, then do it. Crying is our body’s way of releasing emotions. It is sad to leave behind what means so much to you.
  2. Remember your motivations for moving. A lot of people leave their home countries and come to Australia for “a better life”. That could be because of economic troubles back home, political unsettledness, the promise of a better education, career prospects, to reunite with family members who moved earlier or simply to enjoy the sunshine, carefree lifestyle and wide open spaces. When you are dealing with homesickness, remind yourself why you moved. Sit under a tree, on a beach or on your front doorstep in the fresh air and think why Australia was so special to you that you wanted to move here.
  3. Fill your living space with reminders of home. Just because you moved to Australia, does not mean you have to give up your cherished cultural identity. Hang pictures or place candles, ornaments or photo frames around your home. Keep your prized possessions in view such as a scarf, dinnerware, rug, jewellery or incense burner.
  4. Celebrate your homeland’s holidays. In Australia, many cultural and religious festivities are observed and celebrated. Chinese New Year, Holi, Diwali, St Patrick’s Day, Ramadan, Paniyiri and Oktoberfest are all examples of special international celebrations. You will often find them advertised in your local area but if you want more information you might like to contact your country’s Consulate in the state where you live and they can direct you to local groups or organisations.
  5. Plan more activities that make Australia feel more like home. Revisit how you felt when you first arrived in Australia. Did you really see everything you wanted to back then? Make a list of things you want to do and places you want to visit and put them on your calendar so you do them. Immersing yourself more in your local area will make it feel more like your home.
  6. Congratulate yourself for your courage. You made a huge move! It takes bravery and patience and you did it. Remind yourself how far you have already come. Some days it might feel like you are living on a completely different planet, but there are sure to be other days when it feels like you wake up in the morning and the first thing you smell when you walk out the door, smells like home now.
  7. Shop for home comforts. In every major city, there are cultural hot spots where you should be able to find ingredients from home that will help you make your favourite dish. Or, take a seat in a restaurant that serves your favourite authentic dishes. Buy a little trinket that reminds you of home either by sight, smell, feel, taste or sound. Sensory triggers bring moments of true comfort and even if they only cost a dollar or two, or they are consumed and then gone, it may just be those moments that you needed to get over your homesickness, for today at least.
Homesickness is just a reminder that you are where you chose to be. Consider that some people feel lonely and isolated even in their own house, in their home country. It is a state of mind and it does not mean it is bad or that you need to go home. Remember, it is a temporary phase and it will pass. You may even feel homesick at special times of year like your birthday, but the more time that passes, the better you will feel.