Three weeks after I packed up and moved from Bothell, WA (outside of Seattle) to Playas del Coco, Costa Rica, it hit me. I felt the cold, dark wave of homesickness begin to wash over me. And I didn’t like it. There were many moments full of doubt. I thought I had made a mistake and that I should just turn around and go home. But it was an important experience. It was an important part of the growth I was expecting to go through on this crazy journey. I knew this would happen so even though I still felt very sad, I wasn’t completely hopeless.
I remember realizing exactly what the depression I was feeling was. It was something I was fairly unfamiliar with: homesickness. Even though we were beginning the exciting experience of cat rescue, I felt like I didn’t enjoy my new home and my new life. I had never moved more than about a 30 minutes drive away from where I grew up, and for the first time in my life I was in a brand new place where I didn’t know ANYONE (except of course my boyfriend who came with me). To top it off, my Spanish is not that great. Luckily, most people in my town speak English. So we were able to get by, but I still felt so alone.
My first step when dealing with any difficult emotion is…
Give Yourself Grace
Especially with homesickness, it’s okay to feel sad. That sadness might make you tired or lazy, and it’s okay to give yourself a break. During my period of homesickness, I worked less and watched more tv. Just do what you can. Be proud of yourself for what you can accomplish while going through this difficult time. Even if you’re happy with your decision to be where you are, it’s normal to feel a longing for the past.
Get Distracted From Homesickness
Every time we walked into town, or watched a new movie, or tried a new recipe, I felt better. When your mind is focused on something else that you find fun and enjoyable, it’s easier to forget the sadness you feel. So make sure you go out and explore your surroundings. Meet new people (something I admittedly struggle with), and find fun things to do. Not only does this distract you from thinking of the home you used to have, it helps you fall in love with the place you’re in.
Know That A Brighter Future Is Coming
It can be hard to believe when you’re feeling hopeless, but know that the time of feeling homesick will pass. My boyfriend, who came with me, had made large, out-of-state moves in the past, so he was more prepared to handle the sudden change. It helped reassure me that there were better days to come.
And there were better days to come. We met some great friends that we enjoy spending time and going to events with. We’ve gotten the hang of getting around and have been able to start some new business ideas in the area. I feel overjoyed, and completely different than I did when I was going through my period of homesickness. Homesickness is a short period of mourning. I’m happy to say I feel no sadness about moving at all anymore, only a desire to stay here in Costa Rica as long as I can!
If your homesickness seems to be sticking around and you’re starting to feel hopeless, try reading this self-help book for more information on conquering homesick feelings.