For anyone volunteering overseas, homesickness can become both a welcomed friend and persistent enemy. It can serve as a gentle reminder of what’s waiting for you back home, or the overwhelming feeling that everyone you’ve ever met is having a giant party and you simply aren’t invited.
The things that can help to connect you with loved ones across the world can prove to be double-edged swords. The Facebook posts that keep you posted on old friends or colleagues can make you eager to get back. A poor Internet connection can turn your hopeful Skype call into a friendly reminder of the distance—and the difference—between you.
Homesickness can strike at any time, with a wide range of intensity. At these moments, it is important to reflect on your experience, to try new things and remind yourself why you chose to step out into this big adventure in the first place.
Find a touch of home
Whether it is discovering a shop that makes the perfect cup of coffee, or gathering the ingredients and recreating a family recipe, food and drink can bring a familiar feeling. It can help you to remember moments associated with a specific meal or an old routine you may have lost. Visit a cinema and watch a movie you’ve been excited to see (subtitles and all!).
Reconnect with your work
Attempt something new, push for an idea or venture for an experience that reconnects you with the work you are doing, with the people you are helping. It is all too easy to become detached or complacent with the work you are doing, no matter what you are doing.
Try something new
Push yourself out of your comfort zone and try something you could never imagine doing. Attempt something that scares you, which excites you and reminds you of the fact that you are abroad. Sometimes a jolt of adrenaline is all you need to remember “Oh wow, I’m here!”.
Spend some time alone
Find an outlet which allows you to take time alone with your own thoughts. It might be running, yoga or writing, but allow yourself some time each day to be by yourself and process your experiences.
Have a tourist day
When living abroad (especially in Hoi An), you can try time and time again to blend in as a local, and might become jaded to the typical tourist activities after seeing them from the other side. Choose a day and simply be a tourist. Visit ruins or sign up for a cooking class, take out your camera and shoot photos of everything you see. Years from now, you won’t regret the fleeting moments of standing out as a tourist in a sea of locals.
Finally, every once in a while you may find the urge to indulge—do it! Whether it is going out for a nice dinner or getting a massage, living off a self-funded budget can certainly increase your stress levels. Take some time to do something nice for yourself. I guarantee it will only be a fraction of the price back home!