A couple of weeks ago, I prompted Ellie (who you must know by now
) to write about a quotidian journey, which could get monotonous if you don’t enjoy its individual beauty. She wrote a wonderful post about her walk home which you can find here
, and prompted me in return to write about how to make yourself feel at home when travelling or moving somewhere new.
So in the spirit of being strong within yourself and not calling your Mum every day (I’m guilty of having done this the first few times I travelled independently), I’ve prepared a five-point-plan of suggestions to overcome homesickness!
I never travel without a handful of teabags; it’s up there with “toothbrush” and “passport” for me when I pack. Obviously eating is a very primal urge and you’ll have strong emotions, memories and connotations linked to it, so if it’s something you can take with you, do.
There’s a lot to be said for diving straight into a new culture and indulging in the local cuisine, but it’s not cowardly to brew yourself a cuppa to enjoy. Equally if you have a weird favourite food (pasta, baked beans and cheese here, judge me all you like!), then make it, and scoff it down! Life isn’t just about sashimi, tagine and foie gras – though if that’s what does it for you then by all means, fly your flag!
I never used to listen to the radio before I went to work as an au pair. Stuck in a house which didn’t feel like home, in a family which didn’t feel like family, I came to rely on my mornings where I would tune into BBC Radio 4 and listen to whatever happened to be on at the time. Stephen Fry’s voice came to be my comfort blanket! Oddly, now that I’m back, listening to the radio makes me homesick for Iceland.
The point is that listening to the radio, reading a book you love, or watching TV shows or movies on your laptop is one of the best ways to tune out of any stress you’re having and relax into a familiar mind-set. And obviously, these stories have the added property of transporting you away from your situation, be it dire… or actually quite nice!
When you’re away from home, it can have the tendency of feeling like empty time. It doesn’t matter if you’re on holiday and actually have no commitments, or if you’ve just started a full-time job in an unknown city; if you haven’t got a routine, or things to do, you can feel like you’re drifting. You’ll start reminiscing about all those happy days you had so much to do!
Well, everyone always has chores, so grab a pen and paper (or a laptop, you modern harlequins) and write yourself a to-do list. Sort out your finances, send your grandparents a postcard, tidy your room, sort out your jewellery box. You’ll be surprised how doing mundane things can make you feel far more settled! It’s also a good way to leave your house and your room. You might meet a friendly face in the queue at the post office…
Being by yourself might not sound like the best idea when you’re craving the comforts of home, but think about it: what is the one thing that was always
there back home? You. You are that thing. The more time you spend with yourself, thinking, writing, reading, eating, the more you will find that you carry your home inside of you and can just unpack it easily wherever you go.
This is hard. Don’t expect it to work straight away. It takes practice. But soon you’ll find that having the space and the alone-time to do what you like and not be watched or judged, to fill your own time and not have it filled by others, is something you can cherish, and something which allows you to be comfortable wherever you are.
At the end of the day, what better way is there of feeling at home somewhere new? The best way to lose that homesick achey feeling and not pick holes in your day-to-day is to remember that it’s your life you’re living and it’s up to you to make the most of it.
And don’t play the “I didn’t want to come here” or “it’s not like I thought it would be” game. It doesn’t matter whether you bravely chose to move to Rio de Janeiro for the sunshine and are now missing England’s rainy skies, or whether it’s that your parents have sent you to an austere boarding school and all you want is your old room with it’s weird but familiar furniture, it’s still your life.
It’s easy to rely on the false friend of skype or phone calls but, though comforting and vital to your happiness, they don’t really help you feel at home. They help you feel far away from home, and if that’s all you have you’ll quickly find yourself having nothing to hold on to where you actually are.
So get out there! Explore where you’re at! Find new people to fill your heart, new tasks to fill your day, new stories to fill your mind, and new food to fill your stomach. Before you know it you’ll be moving on again, and will miss that which you never knew meant “home”.