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by Kama J Frankling
 

A few days ago while driving along the beautiful Sunshine Coast I mentioned to my partner that I was feeling a bit homesick. “That's odd,” he said. “How can you feel homesick when you don't really have a place that you call home?”

This was a good point seeing as I have not lived in my home country since the age of 13, I have lived in eight different countries over the past 28 years and I don't really have a place that I would call home in the traditional sense. So I began to ponder, what is homesickness? How does it feel? And does it serve a purpose?

What is homesickness?

Generally homesickness is thought of as a feeling of missing familiar surroundings or friends and family. I have not been in any familiar surroundings for years and I have spent most of my life moving away from family and friends so I wanted to investigate what homesickness is for me personally.

My experience of feeling homesick was a feeling of wanting to be somewhere other than where I am now, just for a little while. I wanted to feel close to my family and have fun with some old friends. My first thought was that perhaps it is familiarity that I miss or a yearning for a place to call home, and then I started to wonder if there was something uncomfortable in my life that I want to get away from. Why was it that I had been feeling perfectly happy and then I had felt homesick?

When life feels a bit uncomfortable even in a positive manner it is quite normal to want to resort to some comfort that we can recall from our past, and after a bit of consideration I realised that this was the case for me on this particular day. I have been making some changes in my life and this was causing me some unease. I wanted to seek some familiarity in the form of being with family and I was feeling some nostalgia for my teenage days in East Africa and therefore missing some of my friends whom I have not seen for many years. I realised I was dwelling on the past and fantasising about the future and as a result I was not enjoying where I am today.

Having realised this I was able to find some acceptance for the fact that on that particular day I was feeling homesick, I found a place for it knowing that the feeling would pass eventually especially if I focussed on the good things that I have in my life today.

Is feeling homesick helpful?

I personally believe the feeling of homesickness is only helpful if we use it to gain some perspective on why we are feeling homesick. In other words, do we want to escape an uncomfortable feeling? Or are we making changes in our lives which feel a bit daunting? If we dwell on the feeling of homesickness then the feeling will get worse and we will be unable to enjoy where we are today and all that this place has to offer.

So how can we cope when we feel homesick?

  • Ask yourself if there is something you want to run away from and not face. If there is something try to find a solution and see if the feeling of homesickness passes.
  • Don't fight the feeling; it's okay to feel this way every now and then. Find a place for it, have acceptance for it, and know that it will pass.
  • Phone a family member or a friend and tell them how you feel. It may help just to hear their voice.
  • Find something you appreciate about where you are. If it is a place then go for a visit. If it is a meal then treat yourself, and so on.
  • Meditate and breathe.
  • Gather your new friends for a fun lunch or dinner and celebrate that you have each other.
  • Write your feelings in a journal or in a letter.

Remember that it is quite normal to feel this way from time to time no matter who you are and what you are used to so don't be too hard on yourself if you happen to have a homesick day.

Kama J. Frankling has been a happy migrant and expat for over 28 years. She runs a coaching company called The Happy Migrant.

 
 
 
Posted in humour |
Posted by Kama J Frankling
08 Jun 2010



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Joss you are so right in saying we must remind ourselves why we are here. Since leaving 4 years ago I know of four people who have lost their lives unnaturally. And elderly man beaten death in his own home, a father who happened to be in the right place at the wrong time, a young man in a hijacking and a colleague / friend who took a bullet as well. Australia may not be perfect but i have yet to meet anyone who knows someone who has lost a family member or friend in a murder or someone personally in this instance. I am an old "when we", my children are SA born. We will never forget our past history where we come from but then as said I am eternally grateful for been given the opportunity to give my children a better chance. Thanks for an informative article... Much appreciated.
Rating: 5 / 5
 
by Maggi on 26 Oct 2010

 
Thank you everyone for such open and honest responses to my post. We can all learn so much from the sharing of our experiences. Everyone has made such good points. It is important to move forward, attitude makes a big difference, and yes sometimes the continuous feeling of homesickness does mean that you have made a choice that doesn't suit you life at this time. Thank you for sharing. Kama
Rating: 3 / 5
 
by Kama on 17 Jun 2010

 
I Moved to the Sunny Coast from Melbourne 4 years ago. After about 3 months I started to feel homesick. I thought it would pass. I lost weight and started to feel anxious. I had never felt that way before. I am always a cup half full type of person. I focused on the positive things. I made every effort to fit in and be part of the community. I met some wonderful people (made friends). If fact i met quite a few south Africans and found them to be lovely people. Warm and sincere I'd say. I gravitated toward people who had lived in big cities. An instant connection. My Husband absolutely loved living there. No matter how hard I tried I could not shake the feeling of not being where i wanted to be. I spoke to many people about it and they said sometimes it takes 6 years to feel like you're at home. Wow - 6 years feeling like i did. I'd already done 4. I felt guilty as many of my friends loved living there and couldn't understand why I would want to return to Melbourne. We visited home twice a year and when the plane touched down I felt sweet relief within myself. My husband became frustrated at my constant looking back. I understood - it tormented me too. I felt like i was looking forward. Wine numbed the feeling and I found myself drinking more than i ever did in Melbourne. Our friends and social life revolved around parties on the water...hot weather tends to support a drinking culture. Good times. (no alcohol problem in this scenario) Sometimes it felt exhausting always meeting new people. On a daily basis I was happy. I did not walk around moaning or being all negative. It was weird as I could see the value in the place and it wasn't like anything was going wrong for us. I have a great family and we are financially secure etc. BUT at the end of the day I could not deny who I am. I missed the vibrancy of city living, the culture, the friends that have known me for years and the opportunity to wear boots for more than 3 weeks of the year. So we packed up and moved back to Melbourne. I no longer feel that insecure sick feeling inside. I'm so happy. My kids love being around family and friends too. My hubby understands and all is well in our world. Life's too short to be living somewhere that does not suit you. As a family we learned so much through the whole experience. I don't regret any of it and would do it all again. I am now really good at packing and my husband I both agree that you can move anywhere within one week. You can overcome homesickness with the right attitude but you have to be honest with yourself too. I asked myself - Is it what you want? In fact i agonized over it really. Fortunately I married a very cool guy! The kids are happy anywhere as long as we're all together. Footnote....not much has changed back home. It's not like a huge welcoming party was waiting for us when we rolled into town. But that's ok - i was not deluded about my life being sooo much better back in Melbs. I just feel at home and will visit the beautiful sunshine coast for holidays and to see new mates.
Rating: 5 / 5
 
by Lou Lou on 16 Jun 2010

 
I too have lived in several countries before settling in Australia. After 16 years I still get homesick. I have often pondered what I get homesick for or about and have come to these conclusions. I'm homesick for the more friendly people nature of South Africans where you didn't have to make an appointment days or even weeks in advance to visit with a friend, as you do need to do here in Australia. I miss how easy it was to make friends back home, I do not find Australians that friendly, in fact they're very 'clicky'. When I first arrived in Australia I came with an open mind and the right attitude as I had heard of how friendly and accepting Australians wre of foreigners, especially South Africans, I soon learned this was not the case. Over many years, I have been at the receiving end of comments about being a racialistic white South African and what evil people we are etc. As a result I do not socialise with Australians. I will work with them, I will talk with them, I will be respectful and civil, but I will not form friendships. It has come to my attention that the very thing they accuse me of being, they are guilty of, and as I so nicely reminded one Australian after bearing the brunt of yet another attack on my nationality, that what they did to their Indigenous people was as bad if not worse, they need to check their history. Do I get homesick? You bet I do, and there's not a day that goes by where I know that though my physical being is here, my heart and soul belong to Africa. Go back, I hear you all say, I would if I knew that the colour of my skin would not be the reason for not finding a job, and if I could guarantee the safety and future prospects for my children. I am realistic enough to know that as great as South Africa is, it has issues that go beyond what many Australians are even aware of.
Rating: 4 / 5
 
by Marie on 11 Jun 2010

 
Whenever you start getting that feeling of becoming homesick remind yourself of why you're here. Not many of us made the move to a strange country with a couple of rand in the pocket (and fewer dollars once its converted to AUD) without spending many sleepless nights wondering where our future lies. Remember the realities of life in RSA, not just the best memories. I guess its OK to miss the good times one had with family and friends but don't let it become your focus. There are many great Australians, South Africans and other nationalities that one can become friends with here. You can never replace the family you left behind but you can make some good friends. Our children can be children again and have the freedom they deserve. Back in Cape Town we became prisoners in our own home. The freedom and quality of life we are priveledged to enjoy here is what most South Africans only dream of. We must never lose sight of the many good things this country offers. We must also be extremely careful of not becoming "when-wes". Remember 20-30 years ago when Rhodesia was in trouble and we had many Rhodesians coming down south. We always got irritated at "braais" and parties when they kept harping back about their past and the great country they lived in. We must learn to appreciate what we have now and not live in the past. Remind yourself of the realities of life in RSA when you're homesick and you cannot help but thank God for the fantastic opportunities he's given you thus far.
Rating: 4 / 5
 
by Joss du Toit on 09 Jun 2010

 
 
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