If you’re anything like me, deciding to take the big plunge to a new life overseas wasn’t easy. You probably had all these fears about what it would be like, along with the excitement of exploring a different part of the world. You have this wild idea that living overseas will be like something out of a movie. Now you’re here! And well, the daunting reality sets in that “This isn’t vacation. I actually live here now.” What happens when that sense of newness and excitement passes and you start to face difficulties? Usually it takes about a month, or so, for homesickness to hit. This intensifies once the holidays come around and you can’t go home. So, how do you cope?.
Well I’ve been just about all over this world, and I’ve learned how to start a new life in a new place (more times than I can count). Let me share with you all some tips and tricks that I have learned over the years during my time abroad.
Find a community
First and foremost find a community. Although it may feel like it sometimes, you’re never alone. If you put yourself out there, and try to make new friends, it’ll make your time in Madrid that much better. Whether it’s with your coworkers, your roommates, or people you meet randomly the first step to making Madrid feel like home is to have someone to share it with. Sometimes gravitating to other expats may help since they understand what you’re going through.
Learn the Language
If you don’t already know the language, then maybe it’s time to make an effort. Many people speak English, but it’s always nice to try and speak with people in their language. It opens the door to more experiences that you may not be able to otherwise partake in. The best way to learn a language is immersion, but you’re pretty much already in the country so that’s an advantage! Try to find a language exchange in order to practice and learn more vocabulary. There are many Facebook groups and apps out there that will connect you with people who are more than willing to speak with you. Most importantly, try to speak! Speak terribly, but speak! No one will judge you. And if you find yourself more comfortable speaking with other expats, then go for it!
Find a Hobby
This should be pretty obvious, but finding something you enjoy to pass the time will make Madrid feel more like home. Whether it’s pub quizzes/trivia, yoga, going to the gym,or watching movies. There’s something for everyone in Madrid.
There are also so many events happening all the time. If you haven’t found your community, that’s another way to meet people with similar interests.
Get a Routine
Falling into a routine is the best way to make somewhere feel like home. Having daily, or even weekly, routines will make life seem more normal. For example: Monday, Wednesday, Friday I go to the gym. Thursdays I meet with my study group etc… Soon you won’t even think you’re thousands of miles away from home, but you’re already there.
Keep in Touch Back Home
Finally, and most importantly, once you have adjusted to your new life don’t forget about the relationships back home. Relationships are like flowers, they need to be watered or else they wither and die. Maybe that’s a morbid way of looking at it, but it happens. Once your time abroad is up and you’re ready to go home, having these relationships to come home to will be the best support for your PAD. Or as I call it, post adventure depression. Everyone talks about adjusting to life abroad, but it’s equally important to be aware of the equally difficult task of returning home.
And that’s all guys! Enjoy your time in lovely Spain. This is an experience that will stick with you for the rest of your lives!
Natasha Isabel Koller , MA in International Education 2017-2018