Ideas to feel more like home when you are working in another country
When you have just moved abroad for work, the most urgent thing you probably have in mind is adjusting as fast as possible: finding convenient accommodation, getting to know the best means of transportation to work, choosing a place for lunch, and having your residency papers in order. Weeks later, everything is settled and things are going all right, but suddenly you feel that something is missing. Homesickness sneaks in and the absence of people and things back home starts to bother you. Most times you can’t just rush to the airport and fly back to your country, so all you can do is make life abroad feel more like home. Here are some ideas that will ease the beginning of expat depression you are probably experiencing right now:
1. Personalise your room
Four bare walls will definitely not help you feel like home. Decorate your room with some photos of you and your family, and buy something that you like, such as a nice bedspread or a new curtain. Feeling cosy will help you adapt more easily to your new life.
2. Walk more
Using public transit or a car makes you miss beautiful places and street experiences such as a chic bookstore or a friendly coffee shop. When you’re in a car, streets become simple trajectories and you no longer immerse in a city’s culture.
3. Stuffed animals
It’s impossible to take your entire bedroom from home with you, but bringing your favourite stuffed animal makes any place feel homier.
4. Celebrate holidays
You think there’s no point in decorating your home abroad for Christmas? You are wrong – we tend to associate holidays with home and just a few decorations can go a long way when holidays find you alone in a foreign country.
5. Eat your favourite food
Although traditional food from home can be hard to find in a foreign country, cooking your favourite recipe however you can will help you fill the void in your stomach and in your heart too.
6. Be open to new experiences
When it comes to feeling like home when you are abroad, the trick is to mix old with new. Trying to feel exactly like in your hometown is impossible and filling the walls of your new room with dozens of childhood photos will actually cause you to ignore reality. The idea is to create a new feeling of home, and in order to do that you’ll have to accept the unfamiliar as well. Which takes us to the next point:
7. Learn the local language
The atmosphere will feel less foreign if you know at least the basics of the local language. No one asks you to become fluent in a few weeks, but not being able to say more than “Hello” and “Thank you” won’t help you feel like home at all.
8. Travel somewhere else
This may sound like a strange piece of advice, but think about that: when you are returning from your travel, you’ll see your new city like home or a place you are coming back to.
9. Get a plant
Plants are an indication that a room is home. Having to water you green buddy will help you feel tied to your new place. Some fresh flowers work as well if you don’t intend to spend too much time in a place or you don’t have the commitment needed to cultivate a potted plant.
10. Show off your place
Take some pictures or shoot a video of your new room. You can also present it to friends and family during a video chat. Bonus: you’ll feel obliged to clean your room, which will help you feel more relaxed and pleased in the place you’re trying to make familiar.
11. Get help from other people
Having to figure it out all by yourself in an unfamiliar place can make anyone feel unsettled. We all say how indifferent and self-sufficient humankind is nowadays, but the truth is there still are people who would go above and beyond to help you when you are in trouble or overwhelmed. The important thing is to be open to assistance and to know how to accept it. Offering a thank you gift afterwards can be the first step towards a great friendship.
12. Make friends
Speaking of friendship, it has been found that what makes people lead a happy life is having fulfilling social connections. The most important piece of advice when it comes to making friends is not waiting for people to come to you. Make the first step and start networking. The easiest way to start is finding other expats, although meeting locals is also a good method of making friends. Try to implement these ideas, and before you know, you’ll say to your colleagues from work that you’re going home, and not to your place or to your room.
Have you managed to adjust to your new life yet? Tell us about your experiences!