After a long travel from my homeland, I start to face a new life with inevitable uncomfortable thoughts. Now, learning how to deal with homesickness is my next step.
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A few weeks ago, I arrived in my husband’s homeland, Germany, after almost 24 hours of travel from my country, the Philippines.
It’s my first time traveling abroad; thus, I wasn’t expecting something that could change my life…forever.
At 26, I have already been separated from home many times only for a few months. When I attended my German class in Manila back in 2014, I stayed away for almost 3 months and returned home immediately after I finished the examination.
Given the current situation, there’s no way for me to return home sooner than a year or beyond.
From there, my fear of unfamiliarity and uncertainty grew so instantly that I suffered the intense grief brought by homesickness.
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Now, we’ll go through the post. Shall we?
What Is Homesickness?
According to Wikipedia, homesickness is simply a feeling of intense grief brought by the loss of familiarity of a certain place.
The new circumstances, situations, and culture, for example, lead to the feeling of anxiety, distress, and/or depression.
In most cases, people have different ways to feel homesick. Others feel a bit of discomfort, others have it way more intense than expected.
Unfortunately, I am the latter. I feel too much negative stress in the past few weeks since I arrived in a new country.
As I mentioned earlier, I have never lived abroad nor leave my hometown and my home for a long time. Living in Germany (almost 11,000 square km distance from the Philippines) is the first.
How To Deal With Homesickness As A Writer?
I can’t speak on behalf of other people in terms of specifying their methods to deal with the intense stress brought by homesickness.
For me, being a writer helps in overcoming the uncomfortable feeling in such a way that it keeps me thinking all the time.
Since I began my writing career, I have been exploring the possibilities of my God-given talent in various areas.
I established an online shop to sell my handmade journals and other notebooks; wrote business articles for someone else’s website; crafted fiction stories on Wattpad; and shared my thoughts as a blogger.
As for all the writers out there, including yourself, who are currently dealing with the “stress of unfamiliarity,” I compiled a list of what you can do to cope with the distress.
You may or may not follow everything, at least you can try and see which of these works for you and whatnot.
1. Accept The Feelings First.
You won’t be at peace if you keep denying you miss your homeland, my friend. Accepting the feelings involved in migration is the best thing you could do.
Missing your town is normal. Not only it helps you resolve your temporary discomfort, but it also pushes you to adjust and to muster your courage to face a new reality.
Certainly, it won’t happen overnight because I can’t. I’ve been here in more than 2 weeks now. Yet, I am still in the process of not ignoring the distress involved in living in unfamiliar territory.
In Germany, I have to adjust to every single thing, including the menial and petty things like using machines to do the laundry, washing the dishes, and sweeping the floor. Everything is done by machines.
Back in the Philippines, everyone ignores the use of machines in daily life. For sure, many households use washing machines to deal with the mountains of clothes piled up for laundry.
At home, however, we don’t have such a machine. We don’t have a vacuum cleaner and other household-related devices to manage the work. Everything is done by hand.
In addition to that, I have to accept the new culture 100% as fast as I could, which isn’t healthy at all. Especially the language barrier.
Germany is a non-English speaking country. I have to deal with the fact that I could barely understand the whole conversations.
As an INTJ and a perfectionist by nature, being in such a situation is a stressful event. I need to understand what they’re saying sooner. Every word. I have to be someone who could adjust faster than anybody else.
I have to be…
That’s what I thought all the time.
I unconsciously place myself in a pot of intense negativity with my head saying that I could fail and I have to leave. A fight-or-flight response, as psychology defines it.
My whole being needs a lot more time to feel comfortable with the new and inevitable events upcoming while living here. That is in comparison to living in an English-speaking country, though.
As for you, you don’t have to stress yourself too much. There’s no need to push yourself too hard. You don’t have to learn the new language at once (in case if you’re living in a non-English speaking country like I do).
[su_note note_color=”#fb8b24″]Tip: Keep the learning process as natural as it could. Don’t force yourself. Otherwise, it’ll strain you. A lot. Just as I did.[/su_note]
2. Resonate With The New Surroundings.
The good thing about living in my husband’s hometown is silence. Everyone seems to be asleep all day long. I don’t see a lot of people roaming around nor a lot of cars passing by in a day. It’s a very silent village, which is pretty conducive for my writing activity.
To slowly establish the familiarity in the place, I look around while my husband and I walk hand-in-hand in the nearby Rhine River passing by several benches to sit and enjoy the nice view with the swans.
While we roam around the central town, where all the bustling sounds are, we enter from one shop to the next and buy the clothes I need to wear and other things I need during my entire stay.
Since I’ll be living with him for good, we have to buy clothes apt for different seasons – from winter, spring, summer, or fall – toiletries, and other important things to survive. Including the groceries for the week. A lot of things.
Therefore, I have to keep the learning process as natural as I can. So, pushing myself to the extent I breakdown doesn’t make any sense. Instead, enjoy the bright side of migration.
[su_note note_color=”#fb8b24″]Tip: Explore your new residence and roam around to slowly establish a sense of familiarity with the location. Little did you know these places might inspire you to write something new, too.[/su_note]
3. Try To Scribble Your Thoughts.
Writing your thoughts in a piece of paper or typing in notes on your mobile devices help in calming down your mind.
For every person living abroad for the first time, everything sounds daunting. For writers, the feeling is way more intense than how the rest of the people feel.
Through writing these thoughts, it helps in soothing the chaos and narrows down the path to which you need to take next. When I did this step today, it helps me a lot in many ways.
From there, you can make use of Erin Condren’s journals to help you out. At the same time, you’d enjoy the beautiful designs embedded in each journal without compromising the functionality.
[su_note note_color=”#fb8b24″]Tip: Start keeping a journal and write the things you have in mind to record your thoughts at the time. Journaling, today, has been approved to have a placebo effect, helping you heal your mental distress.[/su_note]
4. Be Courageous & Explore.
As much as you want to retract to your comfort zone and continue missing the familiarity of the town where you grow up, try to start walking around the nearby park or river. Whatever the location you find interesting, you can start from there.
What I did is to keep looking around the nearby river where the swans frequently are.
My husband understands the pressure underneath the migration I am now, especially that it’s my first time to be away from home and in a very far place.
Which is why he’s taking me to places I would like and teaches me how to get to these places such as taking routes via trains and buses.
At least, in a way, my mind gets busy with the things I could do later on, rather than reminiscing the times I am familiar with riding jeepneys back in the Philippines.
[su_note note_color=”#fb8b24″]Tip: Muster some courage and start stepping outside the comforts of your home and roam around the new community you’re living in. It gives you a new but surreal feeling to see the new people you meet and new surroundings.[/su_note]
5. Love The Unfamiliarity.
Now, this is the most challenging part. This also speaks for me.
Germany speaks German. That’s obvious. I don’t speak the language because the Philippines have 100+ languages and dialects. From there, you can imagine what kind of trouble I put myself into.
Although I am already familiar with the language, it’s still difficult for me to do simple conversations with the locals here, except making a bit phrases hoping the Germans could understand what I am trying to say.
That’s one of the challenging unfamiliarities I have to deal with all the time. Cultural differences, weather, lifestyle, among others are on the list as well. All of these are in one staple which bothers me a lot.
On the other side, however, I have to accept that this is the new life I will live from the moment I stepped on the German land. My mind has to embrace the new chapter of my life and slowly immersing to it.
Of course, I don’t want to burden my husband so much with catering to my needs while he continues to work to survive. I have to do something, too, in baby steps. I try to do something different in one way or another. Step by step.
As I said, all I have to do is to love the unfamiliarity and learn new things. In a while, it’d be more interesting and become my routine as well.
What more I could say, I have to live with my husband and build a new life together as a married couple.
[su_note note_color=”#fb8b24″]Tip: Rather than stressing with the unfamiliarity you’re dealing with right now, try to enjoy the feeling instead. Enjoy observing and learning new things in the new land or town you live now. [/su_note]
As a writer, I admit it’s very difficult to think about new stories, new topics, new posts to write about if our minds are in distress.
Migration is a life-changing experience. Based on my experience, I have been in a troubled state of mind in the past few weeks since I arrived in Germany.
It continues to be a very difficult process for me to blend into the new community. I’d be lying if I say I’m not.
Nonetheless, I strive and slowly stand on my own feet trying to get used to the unfamiliarity of the place and the German life.
Instead of pushing myself to achieve familiarity as soon as possible, I enjoy the feeling of being in a different place instead.
Rather than letting distress overpower me, I explore new things and observe to learn.
Who knows one of these would give me new inspiration for my next book idea or my next blog post?
How about you? How do you deal with homesickness? Do you let the unfamiliarity stress you a lot affecting your writing life?
Share your comments below. I’d be delighted to read them.
If you like the post, feel free to share it with your friends and family. Especially those who are currently in the same situation as me. The tips I shared would be a great help for them. 🙂