No matter how well thought out your move to Murcia may have been there may be times when you feel a touch of home sickness. You may miss your old friends or the speed at which your post arrives, the theatres and shows or the reliable electricity supply. You may even miss the cold drizzle on a Monday morning and the warmth of a good curry on a Friday night.
Home sickness feelings don’t usually last for too long and often only strike when you’re feeling low. Having a good strategy in place to ward them off and deal with them if they do strike will keep you from feeling blue.
Wisdom has it that there are three common stages of homesickness:
1. Exaltation. Everything is so new, fresh and exciting. You’re living in what amounts to an entirely new world and every day is an adventure. This is kind of like the natural high that occurs to holidaymakers. It usually lasts for several weeks or even several months in certain cases; but unlike the tourists, you’re not going back home after soaking in a few days’ worth of cultural sightseeing.
2. Frustration. Every high has to end sometime and usually it comes down with a bump. What am I doing here instead of going back home where I belong? I miss my friends and family. I miss wandering round my hometown and reading the local paper.
3. Acceptance. Well, things aren’t perfect here, but things aren’t perfect anywhere. By this stage you’ve learned to settle in and accept this society and your role here as it is. It begins to feel like home sometimes. You start to make a few friends among the locals, learn the language a bit and adapt to the customs and social norms.
Here are some ideas to help speed up the process:
Talk About It
Don’t think you’re the only person feeling sad. Your partner or neighbours may also get the blues occasionally too. Sharing your feelings will help and you may be able to come up with ways to reduce them in the future.
Keep In Touch
Having a good connection with old friends and family enables you to keep informed about their lives and will also remind you of what you’ve got now. Keep in touch:
- Phone – make sure you get a good international cheap call supplier and call home as often as your friends and family can put up with you.
- Letters – the post in Spain is even slower than in Britain and can sometimes be quite erratic. Don’t feel too heartbroken if you think everyone has missed your birthday, the hundreds of cards may just be enroute or mislaid!
- Email – an infinitely more sensible and potentially more reliable solution to keeping in touch with friends and family. You also reduce the risk of becoming a pest as your loved ones can respond in their own time. This solution requires either a mobile phone device with email capability or Internet connection.
- Internet – Keep in touch with other expats through online forums or social events. Facebook is a growing resource for expats, see me at www.facebook.com/debsjenkins
Make a list of all the reasons you came here in the first place, make the list long and elaborate, with all the reasons why you left the UK and all the reasons why you chose Murcia. Really make an effort with this, include all your feelings and thoughts no matter how mad they might seem to someone else.
Then the next time you’re feeling down review your list. Some friends of ours have scrapbooks with clippings and photos to remind them of their reasons for leaving and why it’s so great in Murcia, they add to them on a regular basis as new thoughts occur.
Get Involved in Your New Culture
One of the fastest and most long lasting ways to beat the homesickness blues is to make Murcia your home. Get involved in the culture, the day–to–day living, the fun and fiestas. Make friends in the ferretería and the fish shop. Gossip with the gas man and the girls in the sausage shop.
It can be tempting to only mix with Brits, especially if you’re living on a housing estate. This could be a mistake. Many Brits on the estates are only there sporadically and seeing them go ‘home’ may make you feel worse. Ensure you get a good grounding in the real Murcia.