Homesickness is often thought of as a longing for the familiar comforts of home—the taste of a favorite dish cooked by your mum, the smell of a childhood bedroom, or the familiar faces of loved ones. But what about expat homesickness?

For many expats, homesickness runs deeper than just nostalgia. Expat homesickness is a profound sense of disconnection, a longing for the feeling of belonging and familiarity that comes with being surrounded by people who know you deeply.

You miss knowing things. You miss knowing where you are. You miss people that know you by my name.

It is possible to create new connections and you don’t need years and years to have the same level of intimacy that you have with your friends back home. But for that we need to know what is causing that loneliness or that homesickness.

Handling Expat Homesickness: Find Connection and Prosper Abroad - disconnection and loneliness

Homesickness: Disconnection and loneliness

As I mentioned, the main source of homesickness as an expat is disconnection.

I decided to move to Spain because a lot of things. But the main thing is the weather and the ocean. I was born in a in a in Valparaiso and that’s near the sea. I really missed the ocean.

But, as a homesick expat it’s not just about missing the tangible aspects of home, like your favorite candy bar or your mother’s cooking—it’s about missing the intangible sense of belonging, of being known and understood by those around you.

It’s essential to acknowledge and address these feelings of loneliness head-on when it comes to expat homesickness.

It’s natural to feel lost in a new environment, far from the comforts of home. By acknowledging the source of your homesickness, you can begin to take proactive steps to reconnect with others and find that important sense of belonging in your new community.

Handling Expat Homesickness: Find Connection and Prosper Abroad - connection

The Importance of Creating New Connections as an Expat

While homesickness may initially feel overwhelming, it’s important to remember that it is possible to create new connections and community in your new life abroad.

When dealing with expat homesickness it’s important to make an effort to step out of your comfort zone and seek out opportunities to meet new people. Join local clubs or hobby groups, attend expat meetups, or volunteer in your community.

By actively engaging with others and building new relationships, you can gradually create a support network that will help ease the transition to thrive in your life abroad.

Homesickness: Guilt and Shame

As well as the disconnection and loneliness, one of the greatest challenges expats face when dealing with homesickness is the sense of guilt and shame that often accompanies it.

There’s a belief that as expats, we should be or are living the perfect life—free from anxiety, sadness, or homesickness. Yet, the reality is far from perfect.

We get to a point where we feel like we aren’t supposed to feel this way. Why should we complain? Right? But, the reality is the list is really long of things that are challenging us.

Experiencing and being a homesick expat does not make you weak or ungrateful. It’s a natural response to the upheaval of moving to a new country and adjusting to a different way of life.

Instead of suppressing these feelings, embrace them with compassion and understanding.

Allow yourself to feel homesick without judgment, knowing that it’s a normal part of the expat experience. By accepting your emotions and seeking support when needed, you can begin to overcome feelings of guilt and shame and move forward with resilience.

Handling Expat Homesickness: Find Connection and Prosper Abroad

Don’t let Homesickness Lead to Self Sabotage

As a homesick expat, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of self-sabotage.

Unrealistic expectations and negative self-talk can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and make it difficult to adapt to life abroad.

Our brain is a very effective machine at problem solving, but not it the way it should. It manages to get there in the shortest way possible.

When we do the same things over and over again, when we put unrealistic goals on ourselves. Our brain manages to get there in the shortest way.

As paradoxical as it sounds it has to do a lot with self sabotage. It puts you in a mode of, no, this is too much. No, I can’t. I’m not going to be able to. Our brain is preserving us, taking us to the OK.

What do we do with the self sabotage? We expand it to all of the areas in our lives. We start to think, I’m not doing this. I can’t. So we go to the, I have to go back. I was better in my country. I can’t integrate. I can’t make friends.

To overcome this self sabotage in our life abroad, it’s essential to set realistic goals and expectations for yourself. Instead of striving for perfection, focus on progress and growth.

Break down daunting tasks into manageable steps, and celebrate small victories along the way.

By taking a compassionate and realistic approach to your expat journey, you can avoid falling into the trap of self-sabotage and move forward with confidence.

Handling Expat Homesickness Find Connection and Prosper Abroad Pinterest Gabriela

Navigating expat homesickness is no easy feat, but with patience, resilience, and a willingness to embrace change, it is possible to find connection and thrive in your new home abroad.

By acknowledging the source of your homesickness, creating new connections, confronting feelings of guilt and shame, overcoming self-sabotage, and seeking support from others, you can navigate the ups and downs of expat life.

Remember that homesickness is a natural part of the expat experience, and it’s okay to feel overwhelmed at times. Be kind to yourself, and don’t hesitate to reach out for help when you need it.

As an expat psychologist I can also help you navigate these feelings and emotions so that you can thrive in your life abroad. I like to think that the 400 people I’ve helped, I’ve stopped, potentially moving home and throwing away that dream of theirs.

With time and effort, you can forge a new sense of belonging in your new home abroad and create a life filled with joy, fulfillment, and adventure.

Find out more about my methods and approach here.

Do you want to know more about on how to overcome Limiting Beliefs of life abroad? Check my Workshop here

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By your side,

Gabriela

If you are an expat who wants to live a joyful, successful and fulfilled international​ life, Gabriela is the Licensed Psychologist and Mentor you need.

She helps you reclaim your self-confidence back and design your expat life in your own terms. Gabriela has more than 20 years of professional experience, speaks 3 languages (sometimes in one sentence, like you!) and has supported more than 400 expats overcome anxiety and burnout, build meaningful relationships and enjoy their international lives, wherever they are, wherever they are heading.

Gabriela supports expats in Spanish, English and German and also offers workshops and talks for companies.