Expats Living In Spain: Coping With Home Sickness
No matter how well thought out your move to Spain 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 tips to help speed up the process of becoming a happy native:
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.
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.
Snail Mail - the post in Spain is even slower than in Britain and can sometimes be quite erratic. Don't feel too heart broken 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.
Blog - Keeping a "web log" (online diary) of your adventures in your new home gives you an outlet to share your experiences and also enables your family and friends to check in on you to see how you're doing. There are many easy and free ways to set up a blog including keeping a diary (with the best one each year being published) at http://www.nativespain.com/?a=2
Find People Like You
Get in touch with other expats through online forums or social events. You can find other expats, chat and make contact at http://www.nativespain.com/?a=2
Here are some great forums if you want to "talk" to other expats:
Make a list of all the reasons you came to Spain in the first place - make the list long and elaborate, with all the reasons why you left your home country and all the reasons why you chose Spain.
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.
Get Involved in Your New Culture
One of the fastest and most long lasting ways to beat the homesickness blues is to make Spain 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 girls in the sausage shop. It can be tempting to only mix with other expats, especially if you're living on a housing estate. This could be a mistake. Many expats 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 Spain.
Finally, if you're still feeling unhappy, then you may need to make the decision to return home. Don't feel bad about this - you wouldn't have known if you didn't give it a go!