How to feel at home in a foreign place Harbour with boats

Whether you just moved to a different city or are spending a long time abroad – when we arrive in a new place we often feel a little lost and lonely. While some of us are lucky enough to have never experienced homesickness it will take most people a while to get settled in a foreign place. I often got very homesick as a child but as I started traveling more and more I developed a few strategies to feel at home anywhere in the world. And here they are:

1.    Go for a walk. Every day.

Well, what makes you feel at home in a certain place? A huge part of it is definitely that you know this place like the back of your hand. You know every house, every corner, you know that bus no. 293 takes you to the park while bus no. 294 takes you to the mall. My first tip is to go out there and explore your new surroundings thoroughly. To feel at home we need the feeling that we are in control of things and that we won’t get lost. Start by exploring the area around your house and slowly expand your radius. Plus going for a walk is also beneficial to your health and well-being and it’s a great way to start implementing strategy no. 2:

2.    Create routines

Routines are things you are doing in a similar way on a regular basis. Going for a walk every night after work might be a routine as well as watching your fav TV series every Tuesday with a glass of wine, cooking dinner with a friend once a week or going for a run in the morning. Routines create a sense of everyday life for us because they give us structure and anchor points our lives revolve around. Now while everyday life is sometimes associated with boredom and a lack of new experiences it is a key factor to feeling at home. Home is where our everyday life is. Create a couple of routines that feel good to you and that are unique to your new place. Soon your brain will start associating these activities with the thought that you’re at home.

3.    Befriend the staff at Starbucks

Arriving in a new place and knowing only very few or no people at all can be very frightening. Especially in larger cities we can experience extreme feelings of loneliness as there are thousands of people around us but not one familiar face. I’ve been there as well when I arrived in Wellington, NZ for my internship abroad. It sounds frightening especially for the introverts amongst us but try to meet as many new people as you can. Start with the people you see every day – colleagues, classmates, the guy who makes your coffee every morning. Gather your courage and just chat them up – especially if you meet every day they’ll soon remember you. It may sound ridiculous but most of my friends from Wellington were actually staff at the shops on the main street. In fact I got along so well with some of them I actually moved in with them and we shared a house for a while.

How to feel at home in a foreign place Shed in the woods

4.    Put yourself out there!

Once you met a couple of people new opportunities to make friends will open up: those people will in turn have friends you might meet or there might be events you can attend together. Depending on what you’re into you should look into joining a club or taking a course to meet people who share your interests. Of course it’s fine to give yourself a break every now and again and spend an evening at home. But especially if you’re a bit homesick don’t stay in to look at pictures of your friends and family you left behind. Going out and getting some distraction is the best cure to homesickness!

5.    Make yourself comfortable – no matter how long you’re staying

Feeling at home is so much easier if we like the place we’re living in. If you’re moving into a new place make sure you don’t live on a construction site forever but try to finish the process of furnishing your new home rather sooner than later. If you’re only staying for a limited amount of time or if you’re staying in a place where you can’t choose your own furniture make some little tweaks that help you feel more comfortable. That could be something as little as a scented candle in your bathroom or a corner with fluffy pillows as a place to read a book and have a cup of tea. Making this place at least a little bit “yours” will help you feel at home a lot more quickly.

6.    Go to a new place AGAIN

I noticed something very strange during my time in New Zealand as well as when I moved out from home at age 19: although I had only spent a couple of days or weeks in a place it instantly started feeling like home once I left for yet another even more unknown place. Returning to the city I had only lived in for a month after a weekend trip felt like coming home. In comparison the place suddenly appeared a lot more familiar.

Do you have tricks to feel at home in a new place and to battle homesickness? Please share them with us in the comments!

How to feel at home in a foreign place Sunset over lake