The Next Step
How to make friends and not feel so homesick?
Leaving home for the first time is hard for almost everybody. Leaving home for the second or third time is too. None of this is made easier by not having a sizeable disposable income or good friends, but in every situation there are ways to make yourself feel better about things. Whilst staying safe at the same time. Basically feeling homesick means you don`t really miss everything about home nor does it mean you should just pack your bags and go back. It means you miss the feeling you have at home - being safe, loved and looked after. And there are ways to get over it sooner rather than later.
Here are 5 tips to try out for just that
1. Keep active
No, it doesn't mean you have to take up marathon training or any other sort of extreme athleticism, but if your time is well spent on a variety of things, your brain will have less time to think about all the things you miss from home. It is easiest done when the weather is good and you have great friends to go exploring with on your time off, but coming up with ways to spend time being occupied with something in any situation will make you feel less homesick and more productive and creative in the long run. Try being a tourist in your area and visit all sorts of places, set a personal goal of some sort (like visiting one new coffee shop or cafe every week, going to the local library every week for a new book, etc.) will help a lot. 2. Put yourself out there
The only way to make new friends in a new country is to actively look for them. Making friends is a lot like dating - you meet someone, hang out for a few times and then decide whether or not you feel connected and drawn to them enough to truly build a friendship with them. The main mistake a lot of young expats do is desperately clinging to the people they first find after arriving. Because loneliness is much more scary than having friends, who maybe shouldn't be your friends to begin with. Join online groups in your area - are there Facebook groups for students/au pairs/ expats in your area? Maybe they have regular meetups? If not, post to the group and see if anyone wants to meet up with you. Maybe you`re into sports and there is a sport-related group for people who are looking for jogging partners? Think outside the box and don't be scared to reach out to people. Just stay safe and arrange your meetups to be in public places until you get to know people a little better. 3. Fill your brain with happy hormones
Remember how we said you don't have to take up marathon running? Well, if you feel like it, definitely do it. Because physical activity creates endorphins (hormones that make us feel happy). You can also boost your brains happiness by getting plenty of sunlight, water and fresh air. Yes, you are basically a house plant. With a lot of emotions. So go outside - even if you don't feel like it. And drink water. And try to sleep and eat well. Taking care of your body will take care of your mind and that will make you feel less homesick and more outgoing.
4. Online friends are friends as well
Maybe you are in an area with very few people. Or just far from a major city. Or you miss your friends back home. In moments like these remember, that online friends are friends, too. Not all of them and not always, but it is possible to keep in touch with friends back home via video calls and texts and emails. And it is possible to find new friends in your new home country online, too. Like we said before, most German cities have Facebook groups for foreigners there, a lot of them even have very specific ones (North Americans in Nordrhein Westfalen, or Nigerians in Berlin) as well as the usual expat groups (Expats in Munich, Girl Gone International groups etc). You can also find foreign student and au pair groups and online communities in most major German cities. 5. Go with your gut, not just with your loneliness
Like mentioned in point 2, safety is something you should actively think about. Especially as a young woman abroad. Whether it's making friends or dating, follow a few simple rules to make sure you stay out of harm's way - always meet new people in a public place; don`t give out your exact address to people you do not know or trust (the same caution should be taken with your phone number), don't be pressured into doing something you do not feel comfortable with (people who deserve to be in your life should have your best interest at heart and not make you feel left out or ashamed for something you believe in or feel). If at any point you feel taken advantage of, abused, or threatened, please reach out for help. You should never feel unsafe in your environment and there are measures put in place to prevent that. Check out this video about one foreign student`s story about life and friendships in Germany. There are also this video and this article about feeling homesick and what to do about it.