We have all been there. A couple weeks into a fantastic adventure abroad and you start to feel homesick. It usually happens towards the end of the trip. Not close enough to the end that you are sad about having to leave, just far enough away from the beginning that you are starting to forget the luxuries of home. This homesickness in a third world country is not enough to make you call it quits. Its just enough that you are acutely aware of how the city is a little bit dirtier than back home. How the language is just a little hard to understand. How the world back home is moving along without you. Here is how to combat homesickness when it seems like you are a lifetime from home.
Do Things That Interest You
This is probably pretty obvious, but have fun! Go to that meuseum you’ve been looking forward to. Try the skydiving or the rappelling adventure. Do something! Have so much fun that there is no place you would rather be.
Studying abroad in Costa Rica, I made some of the most incredible like-minded friends. Towards the end of our trip, we all started to miss home. It was the first time most of us had been gone that long. So we took off for the beach and spent the time enjoying the sun. Our bus crashed, we got stuck in a storm, and we absolutely had the time of our lives. We jumped off 40ft waterfalls, crashed into the raging ocean. We made pina coladas out of We were too busy having fun on our crazy adventure to think about anything else.
Schedule Time to Talk to Friends Back Home
When you are on the other side of the world, this can be a challenge. It usually works the best to plan a time first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Schedule time with the person you want to talk to so they are available then. Luckily, there are so
many way to communicate, even if you don’t have a local phone. If you have a smart phone and wifi connection, you have access to unlimited forms of communication. Facetime on iphones, facebook messenger allows you to video chat, skype lets you call any phone, whatsapp lets you txt anyone with the app. There are countless ways to communicate depending on what you prefer (or who you are trying to talk to). Try to limit the time you spend talking to those back home. After all, you’re here for the adventure!
Once again, probably pretty obvious, but it can be hard. Staying in hostels is always a great way to meet people that want to meet you. So is participating in activities that you enjoy. You are alway bound to meet people with similar interests!
Backpacking through South America alone had many rewards but it could be lonely at times. After coming home from a day on the beach by myself in Cartagena, I joined two siblings on the patio outside the hostel. We clicked instantly and I invited myself to dinner with them. I found out that their next destination was exactly where I was going the following day. They invited me to hang out the next few days and they actually followed me to el Peñol de Guatape for the most spectacular view in all of Colombia.
And my number one fool proof method for curing homesickness in a third world country:
Breakfast at Western Hotel
When all else fails, I find the biggest, most western hotel around and have breakfast there. They cater to business people from all over the world, and serve food that you could find at an IHOP. Even if you don’t like IHOP, several weeks into eating strange foods and a traditional breakfast platter sounds real good. The clean environment, familiar foods, and people speaking a language you understand, always makes me feel a little closer to home.
This started when I was in Sri Lanka several years ago. I was volunteering for several weeks and had started off in Kandy. When the opportunity presented itself to take a new assignment in Colombo, I jumped on he opportunity. I said goodbye to my newly made friends in Kandy and headed to the volunteer house in Colombo. There were only two other foreign volunteers along with many young locals that would come by during the day to work on community projects for school. The only problem was the leader of the house was absolutely crazy. The locals dealt with him in order to pass their classes at the university, but my two volunteers were fed up with his drama and lies. As soon as I got there, things got worse. He was required to feed us breakfast and dinner, neither of which we got most days. He also forced the female volunteer and I to move into the upstairs room with glass walls and doors that didn’t lock. Two days into my assignment (that I loved), I came home to find their bags packed. They told me that he had come up with one too many ridiculous rules and they no longer felt safe staying there. They had talked to the volunteer directer who had bought us tickets to take the train back to Kandy first thing in the morning. As a result, we ended up staying at a hostel in Colombo and went out for breakfast before our train. One of the volunteers wanted eggs and bacon and somehow we ended up on the doorstep of the Hilton. After not talking to my family in a few days, having to deal with the crazy man in charge of the volunteer house, and now being guided through a city with two people I barely knew, I couldn’t have been happier to sit in the clean restaurant with the fresh coffee and eat pancakes.
While that was my first experience fighting homesickess in a third world country by eating at a big fancy hotel, it certainly was not my last. I repeated this experience in Chile and Cambodia and it works every time!
What do you do when you are feeling a little homesick? Let me know in the comments below!