How to combat homesickness in 5 simple steps

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…

Self-deprecation: A trixie little minx

yankeebean

yankeebean

If you (like me) are an American woman, living in England, married to an English man, having trouble making English women friends – here’s a tip for you.

Experiment (carefully) with self-deprecation.

You all know by now that I’ve had never-ending issues making good friends that are both female and English.  English but not female?  No problem.  Female but not English?  Nothin’ but net.  English AND female?  I’m an alien from outer space.

But there’s been a positive development in my handicap with befriending British women – self-deprecation.

It doesn’t have to be much, I’m not saying, “My God, I am just SHITE and EVERYTHING, I am such a WASTE of SPACE, I’m taking up VALUABLE OXYGEN that better people could be USING…” – but it seems that a little self-deprecation goes a long way.

I must admit, it doesn’t come naturally to me… I’ve spent my whole life working in an industry where self-deprecation = weakness = no work = no cash = no food = die (well, not DIE, I’d probably just have to move back in with my parents…).  I mean, there’s enough free criticism out there to knock any wobbly ego off its pedestal faster than you can say “American Gladiators”… why invite it in to bash you in the face?

Anyway, I’m starting to ramble…

Before

So, this is how it used to go when I met a new Brit-chick:

  • I introduce myself and shake their hand
  • I ask what they do
  • I make a comment about how that sounds interesting
  • They say something equivalent to, “Oh, it’s nothing, really”
  • They ask me what I do
  • They make a comment about how that sounds interesting
  • I say something like, “Yeah, I really love it – it’s the best job ever”
  • The conversation eventually either dribbles, grinds or jolts to a halt…

After

This is how it works now (only one small difference):

  • I introduce myself and shake their hand
  • I ask what they do
  • I make a comment about how that sounds interesting
  • They say something equivalent to, “Oh, it’s nothing, really”
  • They ask me what I do
  • They make a comment about how that sounds interesting
  • I say something like, “Oh, I dunno, you haven’t heard me yet, you’ll have to make up your own mind” (note: I’m a voice-over artist)
  • The conversation ambles along reasonably well for awhile

I don’t know exactly why it works and I don’t give a rip snort – but it definitely warms the atmosphere.  I get a kind of ‘you’re one of us’ vibe once the deed is done.  Of course, deep down I believe the people that don’t like my stuff either have different taste, or they’re just wrong.  But if I didn’t feel that way, the Industry American Gladiator would’ve WHOOPED my ass by now…

But beware!

A word of warning to all the confident, outstanding, feisty-sass-pots out there – don’t fall for your own bad press.  Self-deprecation is just a tool to crack the ice – we all know you’re awesome, really :)

PS – On the flip side of the foreign currency, Americans seem to HATE self-deprecation.  People tend to either try and big you up, or tell you to stop fishing for compliments.  I wonder if there are any American kids named Confidence…

When your American-self imagines breeding some British children

peacefulyorkshire

peacefulyorkshire

I am not  hoping to get knocked up my English boyfriend. But! I can vouch that when you are a lay-deh approaching the big 3-0- your mind just starts thinking about kids, biological clocks, your eggs disappearing….I know, I know before you think this post is ‘cliche-arama’,  hang on: It is different when the ‘eggs and time ticking’ happens when you are living as an American woman in England. Doesn’t the thought of having your own kids in a foreign country make you think about things differently?

For instance. Somehow in my ‘happy family fantasies’, my offspring all speak American(well, like me!): Hey therrrr Mom, can I have som’more them Nabisco Waaaaayferrrs? My good-natured-well-rounded-children would do happy things like celebrate the 4th of July while they squirt lines of E-Z cheese on their Oscar Mayer wiener*.

But if I imagine having kids here in the UK,  I start to feel uncomfortable at the thought. What would it be like to have kids that speak in a British Accent? (Oh Motha dear, could I trouble you foh some of that lurvely Ribeeena?). As if! In my fantasy they wouldn’t sound like that- I have them down sounding more like da Ali G.

The ‘what-ifs’ eat away at my brain. I freak out that they would have to grow up in a council estate because we couldn’t get on the UK property ladder anywhere else.There my British children would become little chavsters and enjoy burning out wheelie bins. I wouldn’t able to send them to a public school on my meagre income and all the good state schools would be oversubscribed so their brains might rot. I would worry they would have sex at age 11 and drink Thunderbird mixers in secret alley ways (you know, the ones with the orange lights!). My family in America couldn’t help raise them because they are too far away. Gollee, my unborn British children really freak me out right about now. Bring on that free NHS contraception.

Yankeebean’s post that midly freaked me out enough to inspired this one…. Click here

*that would be a hot dog and not the dodgy UK defintion of ‘wiener’ just to clear up any confusion as it would confuse the meaning of this post somewhat.