Neither of us is German. If we stay on long enough and be good at German, we may become “semi-locals”. If we DO stay long enough, Theo might be the most German person in our household. Germany might just very well be home for him even though he has a British passport.
Well, for us adults who grew up in a different country, living away from home can be fun and exciting. It’s thrilling to be thrown in a different culture (if you appreciate different cultures and way of life). However, every expat will at some point get homesick regardless of how fulfilling, rewarding and exciting their expatriate lifestyle is. So here are some ways to cope with homesickness.
1. Get on social media
Facebook will be a good one to start. There are so many groups initiated by fellow expats who were lonely individuals. In Frankfurt, here are a few common ones -
- Frankfurt English Speakers
- ExpatBabies.com in Frankfurt
- Singaporeans in Frankfurt
- Singaporeans in Germany
I can’t guarantee that your new friends will be fabulous, but it’s so important to put yourself out there to meet new people. These people were once new so they know exactly how being new and foreign in a country feels like.
2. Technology IS your friend
I was a little slow to accept the iPhone (or any smart phone) when I was living in the UK. That meant not being able to Whatsapp or FaceTime anyone. There was good old Skype but the call quality was often rubbish for me. Whatsapp just changed the way I communicate with family and friends back home. The best of course is FaceTime. I know it’s not the same as having the physical person in front of you, but being able to see faces is great.
3. Stop comparing everything to home
Every so often we compare (and complain) about how stupid something is done in Frankfurt. How does that help apart from making you miss home even more?
I’m not saying we worship all practices and norms in Germany. However if we try NOT to see everything back home as superior to what’s in our host countries, we’re doing ourselves a big favour. Life will be easier.
4. Give local culture a chance
Hence I started this blog! I wanted to make sure that I visit local markets, cities, fairs etc. I wanted to learn more about Germany.
If you’re in Frankfurt and you want to know what the upcoming events are, follow Feste and Events in Frankfurt on Facebook.
5. Seek comfort in home food
Fortunately for me, Singaporean food and Malaysian food are similar. Therefore Frankfurt has a lot to offer in terms of food that reminds me of home.
Usually at these restaurants, you’ll get to meet a fellow countryman and get to speak your local language to the waitresses. Every time I visit a Chinese restaurant, it feels like I’ve left Germamy temporarily.
If your local cuisine is too exotic for your host country, you might want to learn to cook and invite some friends over for a small party.
I think the best way to cope with homesickness is to put yourself out there and make friends. It will not be easy if you’re a little shy but don’t give up trying to network. There were people I just can’t seem to carry a conversation with (so we stopped wasting each other’s time); but I’ve found friends in Frankfurt to just be silly with and share a few good laughs.
How did you cope with homesickness and loneliness when you moved abroad?