This is a guest post by Peter Collin. He has a PhD and served as an academic consultant to several universities. He is also a seasonal professional writer at 1click dissertation to help students in completing their academic assignments.
In a recent survey, nearly 85% students who study abroad experience homesickness. Although this is study was on students, it is also very common amongst leaders. Homesickness is argued to be a form of anxiety that occurs when the world feels less stable around you. Psychologists state that homesickness can arise due to a variety of reasons, such as cultural shock from living in the new environment, life without friends, family and the comforts of home, inadequate coping mechanism in the new country. Leaders who experience it, might notice an increase in depressed feelings, anxiety, obsessive thoughts and minor physical illnesses.
Nevertheless, in my opinion, homesickness can be identified through this scenario; “In depression, sufferers find both university and home awful, whereas in homesickness university can feel awful while home may be seen in rose-tinted hues.”
Most of the leaders would normally start by being mildly depressed and anxious several weeks before leaving home, in anticipation of the impending change. However, others will be fine initially, and then to everyone’s surprise they find themselves feeling homesick later, perhaps soon after the completion phase one of a major project, or even at the start of their second year. But ordinarily it is the first few days or weeks after arriving which are the most difficult.
What might help?
- Start a daily routine
Try to sort out a daily routine and then follow it regularly. This can very be easy; do not spend lots of hours at home in front of the laptop screen. Figure out what you are going to do as a daily and weekend routine. Go to nearby grocery store, join a gym, take a morning walk, meet a friend over a weekend or read in a coffee shop every afternoon. Staying engaged and having daily routines helps your new surroundings seem much more familiar and comforting. Researches shows that those who feel they are in more control suffer from less homesickness stress.
- Create a bucket list
After the first few weeks in the new country, make a bucket list. Look online or ask locals for the most p opular spots, attractions, or restaurants to visit. Every culture has their own traditional events; try attending all of them, as it would render you a better feel and knowledge about the new city/country. You can also enter ‘developing new hobbies’ onto the bucket list.
- Talk with family and friends occasionally.
Being lonely plays a major role in homesickness, even the most open and friendly individual can find integrating into a completely new country and culture challenging. This can be particularly frustrating if you are also not a native speaker of the local language. Nevertheless, to overcome these challenging feelings, contacting your family and friends occasionally is the best remedy. Chat with them once a week for few hours, but do not spend your whole day talking to them.
- Learn something new
Studies have shown absent mindedness is common in leaders who experience homesickness. Studying your work related topics or learning every day will keep your mind active. You can learn a new language, learn to cook new dishes, or begin yoga/martial arts/diving courses. The more you can relate this learning activity to your host country/city, the better. After all, you are here to immerse yourself in this culture.
- Make your new home a home
Most leaders who work abroad live in private housing or dorm facilities. Make your new place into a place you feel more comfortable. This will allow you to be more positive. Remember, one of the reasons you are suffering homesickness is because you haven’t quite felt like your new country/city is home. Spend some time and money redecorating your room, such as buying a book shelf, a lamp, pictures, etc. In addition, make friends with your neighbors, and do everything you can to make this a new and somewhat attractive place.
I hope these suggestions will prove useful for new and existing leaders who are working in a different country/city. There are many things you can do to help yourself, but do not hesitate in seeking out the help of others. Homesickness is not unusual – and it can be conquered!