I write this post not as a sorrowful whine about how terrible it is to be away from home and family and friends and everything familiar. That’s just not true. I love to travel and explore and try new things. Instead, I write this as a reflection of various times I’ve felt homesick and how I deal with it.
Being homesick is inevitable when one moves far away and has very few connections in the new place. I felt homesick when I first moved to college, when I moved to Illinois for the summer after my freshman year, when I moved to Fort Worth the following summer, and now in Amarillo. During those experiences, I’ve come up with a formula of sorts to prevent the heartache of being in a new place as much as possible.
First, I stay busy. I make lists of errands to run, places to explore and restaurants to try. I go shopping, go to the library and go for a walk. I exercise, read books and do puzzles. Just yesterday I completed two 500 piece puzzles. I take pictures of the things around me, watch movies, study maps of the area and generally don’t let myself just sit and brood for too long. I’m a strong believer that diving into a new city wholeheartedly is the best way to keep my mind off of the things I’m missing at home.
Second, I slow down. With all the crazy activity that comes with moving, I find that demanding some alone time is very important. Sure, I love to meet new people and develop new friendships, but for me, there has to be a balance. Maybe this contradicts the previous idea, but I need time to write and reflect on the events that are happening. It helps me process and identify what’s going on in my mind and around me.
Third, I make sure to surround myself with familiar things. For this move, I cut everything down to the bare necessities. Everything that came with me was packed into the trunk of my car, and I couldn’t be happier with the ease of that tactic. However, for me the “necessities” include a few small comforts from home. One framed photograph of all my siblings, some small decorations like this clay pot, and some familiar books for when I just need a comfort read. All of those little things hold memories, and seeing them mixed with so many unfamiliar things helps me adapt to my new environment.
Everyone deals with homesickness in different ways, and I would love to hear about your special tips that work for you. Even the most adventurous people feel longing for the familiarity of home, but I think it’s how you deal with it that makes an experience awful or wonderful.