According to the English Dictionary, homesickness is defined as – “A feeling of longing for one’s home during a period of absence”. And it sucks. It can be mild, manageable and come and go, or it can be more severe, even resulting in physical symptoms such as lack of appetite, nausea and extreme sadness. In a nutshell, it missing the sense of security and protection that familiar places, people and routines give us. A lot of people won’t admit to having homesickness, but if you get it, you can be rest assured you are not alone and it is completely normal, no matter what your age. It is not a sign of weakness.
Going on a Working Holiday is a big deal. Along with the excitement, thrills and butterflies, can come feelings of dread and lack of self-belief. It takes time to adjust to new environments, cultures and people, all the while dealing with leaving family, friends and routine back home. No-one is the same and hence will deal with these feelings differently but below are a few tips that may help. Remember though, if homesickness becomes unmanageable you may want to seek professional help.
Talk – to anyone! Don’t ignore or supress your feelings, it will make it worse, instead acknowledge how you feel. If you are travelling on your own it can difficult to find someone to talk to, but give people a chance, fellow travellers’ have probably either been/going through it. Skype with family and friends regularly, but don’t allow yourself to become dependant on them to function.
Take care of yourself – don’t isolate yourself. Get enough sleep, get out and explore your new surroundings and become familiar, get some exercise, meet people, and remember that even on a budget, you can eat well.
Balance – with everything around you being new, try to even the load with some things that are familiar and keep you connected to home. Maybe it’s a couple of photos to look at, or something with some sentimental value. Can you track down some familiar foods, or get involved in a familiar activity?
Don’t dwell – remember why you are there. Try and tap into those feelings of anticipation and excitement you felt when planning your journey. What did you want to achieve, what did you want to see, and are you taking steps to achieve these? Go back to the drawing board, re-write your bucket-list and start ticking things off it.
Time – give it some. Be patient with yourself, it may be a few days, or even months for these feelings to lessen and don’t compare yourself to other traveller’s around you. Remember that outwardly they may seem to be coping and have adjusted immediately to their new surroundings, but this is not always the case.