How to combat homesickness in 5 simple steps

Posted on November 8, 2012 by yankeebean

Unless you’re one of those lesser-known robot-expats, you battle with home sickness just like the rest of us.  Here are the 5 simple steps that will help to ease your homesickness (well, they help me, anyway…)

1 – Cry

The first step to curing your homesickness is to let it ALLLLLLL hang out.  Cry.

And don’t just cry, UGLY cry.  Homesickness ain’t pretty and your homesickness doesn’t have to be either.  Line up the tissues and let ‘er rip.  Formally invite yourself to your own pity party and gush until you start to feel better.  You will feel better, I promise.

2 – Call home

A lot of the time my homesickness is triggered when I haven’t talked to my family recently enough.  Picking up the phone or, better yet, hopping on Skype is a quick and easy way to lighten the emotional load.

Sometimes the time difference would mean waking your Mom and Dad up in the middle of the night and scaring them because middle-of-the-night calls are rarely good news.  If it’s too late/early in the States when you’re homesickin’, write them a big ‘ol email instead and suggest a chat time later on.

3 – Eat lunch at Subway and then have coffee at Starbucks

Sometimes I just want to be back in America – even half an hour would do.  I feel like I need to be temporarily surrounded by loud-talkers and positive attitudes and then I can get on with my UK plans.  On those days I take myself out for lunch at Subway and coffee at Starbucks.

I can attest that both of these places are similar enough that it’s almost like being transported back to the States for my lunch hour.  I consider Starbucks a kind of American-Embassy-with-coffee.  I always play spot-the-Americans and try to count how many other expats or tourists have come to take refuge.

4 – Hang out with other expats

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t hang out with locals, far from it!  But it’s SO INSANELY useful to be able to have a guilt-free bitch session with a fellow expat when homesickness comes a-knockin’.  Venting to a local is dangerous – you’ll almost certainly offend them (at least if you’re doing your bitching right).  But venting to a fellow expat is luxurious – is verbal vicks vapor rub – its pure relief.

5 – Write about it

Since 2008, I have come back and back and back to this blog as a way to combat my homesickness.  Can you guess why I’m writing this post?  I’ll give you a hint – I just got back from Subway and Starbucks.  I’m beginning to think that I’ll never stop blogging because I’m not sure what I’d do without it.

Blogging about the differences between the US and the UK, and the hi jinx of moving from America to England is the bomb-diggity because it adds perspective.  It helps me to see the funny side of the, shall we say, ‘colo(u)rful’ experiences that arise when you move to another country.  It also gives me the glorious relief of proving that I’m not alone.  Every time one of our lovely commenters commiserates, it soothes my mind.

I am not the only expat.  I am not the only homesick American.  You’re all here with me and you’re all living it, too.  Go us!

If you have any tips about combating home-sickness, please please please let me know.  I’m always looking for new ways to beat this sucker…

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What Others Are Saying

  1. Debbie February 1, 2013 at 8:47 am

    I’ve been living in Aberdeen, Scotland for the past 6 months and I have yet to feel home-sick. The only thing that has really gotten to me is the food. I do hang out with mostly other expat Americans, so I am sure that is why. If I ever do get the itch, I think #3 will do the trick :-)
    Thanks for the post!

  2. Parker November 10, 2012 at 11:31 am

    I agree with everything above but ya know what? When I do go to the states after about 2 weeks I am longing to come “home” to England. I miss my stuff and my house….
    I long for many things and I bitch constantly because I have a “I want” list as my hubby calls it ;-)

    I combat homesickness with Starbucks for sure!
    I do also text friends in the states so that helps. Set up a US google voice # in the states anyone can text anytime and forward it to your email and you can reply back and forth just like normal texting and no charges! This helps LOADS!

    • yankeebean November 12, 2012 at 12:55 pm


      I get lonesome for England now just like I get lonesome for America :) It took me awhile to not spend the entire vacation feeling a bit miserably split in two. I would be half loving being surrounded by my native culture, but also half feeling that fish-out-water-nothing-is-quite-same expat vibe.

      I think I’ve mastered it now though!

      You also nailed it with being able to text people. I only recently discovered Whatsapp (http://www.whatsapp.com/) which let’s me text my whole family from my smartphone for free. I can’t BELIEVE what a difference it makes!!

      How do you set up a Google voice # in the States? It sounds like it might be freaking amazing.

      • Taylor November 12, 2012 at 2:15 pm

        Whatsapp is AMAZING. I specifically looked for a phone that was compatible with whatsapp when I moved here.
        Skype is amazing, too. I know you can set up a Skype # for a different country than you’re in (i.e. set up an American phone number for a monthly payment of $10 I think). I haven’t tried it but I’ve known people in America who used it to have a UK phone number through Skype and loved it!

  3. Taylor November 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    I’ve only been in England a month now, but there was one time where I wanted to be back in America. And it was over something SO STUPID! I was looking for a specific pair of running shorts that I bought and I searched everywhere for them. Finally I was like… “They’re in America….. Why am I not in America?!!?” I literally burst into tears about how I missed my old room and how everything was there and I didn’t have to make do with the 2 suitcases I was able to bring.

    But when I’m “homesick” (I’m not the homesick type. Never really have been.) I put on The Big Bang Theory on whatever channel it’s on and just sit and laugh, or look at funny lists that only expats would understand, like your “Times when England really annoys me” list. Just silly stuff like that. I never ends up making me want to go home, it just makes me feel lucky that I can now call 2 amazing places my home! :)

    • yankeebean November 9, 2012 at 2:32 pm

      Love the positive spin, T :) American TV plays a big part in combating my homesickness, too.

  4. brynzapoppin November 9, 2012 at 8:07 am

    There are little things I miss about Canada… pretty autumn leaves, proper fussing over Halloween, spaghetti squash… And sometimes I comment on how absurd the traffic light system is here, or how I just can’t relate to everybody’s obsession with class. But I wouldn’t say I really get homesick. Never have.

    I love this country, and I love that I have been lucky enough to move (and stay) here. I know plenty of people who are fighting for and losing that same chance.

    I don’t know how much time you spend in London (if any), but I get the impression from most of the posts on here that you’re all living a very different UK reality than I am. Maybe the odd trip to the Big Smoke would do you good. If nothing else, it’s chock full of American tourists!

    • yankeebean November 9, 2012 at 12:06 pm

      Oh, how I long for a day when I’m never homesick! Don’t you miss your family? After 8 years, that what I mean when I say that I’m homesick. I miss going our for breakfast with my Mom and Dad. I miss having pizza and movie night with my brother and sis-law. I miss only being a 7-hour drive away from the big family reunion. No amount of Big-Smokin’ will cure it :)

      Out of curiosity, where are you from in CA? Are you a city-lady at heart?

  5. Iota November 8, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Writing helps a lot (sorry… a bunch). It’s why I started blogging. Blogging has the double benefit. You write, but unlike a personal diary stuffed in your bedside cabinet (sorry… nightstand), you get the empathy too.

    All of which you said, but I’m just agreeing.

    • yankeebean November 8, 2012 at 12:31 pm

      Iota – my expat sistah! I knew you’d understand :D

    • Cameron November 8, 2012 at 3:50 pm

      I have been in the states since 2004 and it took me 5 years to get over my homesickness. It’s strange I just realized in my sixth year that I didn’t miss home as much as I used to and that I had got used to living in another country. I still miss my home, my family, and my mates but it gets easier with time. I think these things helped me the most:

      1. Stop bitching about the place ALL the time. It’s never going to be like your home no matter how hard you try. The are somethings which are better and somethings that are bad. But saying that I understand that the odd bitching is healthy but don’t fall into the trap of doing it all the time.

      2. Book as many vacations as you can to go back home. If you have a partner then he or she has to understand that you are making a sacrifice living in their country by not seeing your parents etc. So you go to your home whenever I want to go. Sorry, Costa Del Sol! Oh and bringing your parents over is super fun too!, “Yes, Mum, the cars are much bigger over here.” Also, sometimes when you go home you realize that home is not so wonderful as you remember it.

      3. Make friends with lots of local people (THAT YOU LIKE). Being pissed off and lonely is no fun.

      4. Always think to yourself that when you go home you will become normal again, IE: when you walk in a room nobody will say, “wow! Are you American?” Yes, I know it gets to be a pain in the arse but it’s also an advantage. Tell me you won’t miss being the special person in the room when you go home to LIVE in your country?, “What i’m no longer special????”

      5. Accept that just because we speak the same language doesn’t mean we are the SAME! I think I would have dealt with things better if I had moved to Spain or France. The fact that we speak the same language you make a lot of assumptions.

      6. Become a native. I became a US citizen in Sept 14th 2012 and voted :D .

      Man my comments are really long :S. Don’t worry my next ones will be much smaller :p

    • yankeebean November 9, 2012 at 12:16 am

      Cam – Bulls-eye on the bitching front! I went through a very long (ok, three year long) phase in which I did a LOT of bitching about my new home land. You can tell, too – just check out some of the earlier posts on this very blog.

      Almost every post is gently seasoned with a least a hint of bitterness.

      MAN am I glad those days are behind me, though. Now I have bog-standard rages about 21st century problems like getting cut off in traffic or when they run out of Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks :D

  6. J November 8, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Thanks for this post. I had a truly awful day yesterday and as I got into bed, I thought maybe I’ll go get a sandwich from Subway tomorrow… even though I’m not a big fan. I’ve been here for five years and still get homesick – mainly for family, friends, American optimism, positivity, socializing, fun. I make sure I celebrate Thanksgiving every year as it’s one of my favorite holidays. After watching the fireworks on Monday for Bonfire Night, I turned to my husband (who is English) and said ‘Happy 4th of July!’ Does the homesickness ever go away?

    • yankeebean November 8, 2012 at 12:30 pm

      It never completely goes away, but it keeps on getting easier and easier and easier. Over time, you’ll become the master of your homesickness domain and you’ll learn the tricks that help you feel better.

      I celebrate Thanksgiving every year, too and it’s a freaking blast! English people get SOOOOO excited about coming over for a Thanksgiving dinner :)

      Did you make it to Subway in the end? It’s the smell that reminds me most of America. It’s EXACTLY the same…

      • J November 12, 2012 at 2:06 pm

        No, I never made it to Subway but I don’t mind because I had a f*ing fabulous long weekend hanging out in London with old college friends and French family that were visiting. Hope you had a good weekend too!

        PS I stream American radio stations from where I used to live to combat homesickness sometimes!

    • Malka December 2, 2012 at 8:24 pm

      I also stream American radio stations on my phone when I’m feeling homesick! Which is funny because I used to listen to British stations on my phone before I moved here.

      I’ve reached about a 75/25 balance of acclimating to the UK/sticking to US “comforts”. I’m developing my “regulars” in UK magazines, UK makeup products, UK clothing stores etc. (which is surprisingly mentally exhausting! Even choosing new “go-to” soft drinks – in the US that would be a Snapple or Vitamin Water Zero, but here they don’t have Snapple and the Vitamin Waters are twice the price of everything else, hence my dozens of times of standing in newsagents for ten minutes agonizing over the drink choices). The other 25% of the time I allow myself the comfort of sticking to familiar US products – either having my family send them over or buying imported.

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