How I Deal With Homesickness

HOME SICKCreative Commons Licensephotocredit:caseywest

Was married to an American and having lived abroad, homesickness was something I had to dealt with a lot.

Technically, I had left home since I moved to Jakarta for High School when I was 15 years old so homesickness is not something that I never feel before. But when you live thousands of miles away – in another continent, homesick feels a lot stronger and here’s how I deal with them:

Communications, communications, communication…

Back then I – or sometimes Mr. X – always made sure I bought enough calling cards to call my parents on every weekend. This was before we got Vonage who gave us the best international call rates!

During the weekdays, chatting online helps too especially the video chat kinds as grandparents can see their grandson.

With how advance our communications technology these days, it is a lot more easier and cheaper to maintain communications back home.


Did that got you frowning? Yeah, so was I! But believe me when you feel homesick some native foods will ease that feelings at least a bit. If you lived in the middle of no where like we did back in Dothan, where there’s no Indonesian restaurant unless we drive 6 hours to Atlanta, then you will just have to do with slaving down in the kitchen yourself!

Cooking isn’t exactly my passion but to fulfill those craving for Indonesian foods, I who had never cook anything more than fried rice before – had made some pretty cool stuffs myself from recipes that I found online. Who knew I could made this:

Indonesian style snack

Sate Babi

The power of Community

There will always be communities of people from your country in just about every country unless you live in a really remote area. Yet, if you have access to the internet then it is easy to find these types of community.

My first time in Upstate, NY. Indonesian community there invited me to a gathering to celebrate Eid and that was great opportunity to meet other Indonesians. For some reasons, when you’re far away from your country you will feel this certain bonds with fellow ‘immigrants’. This at least is true for me – not for my Mr. X but that’s another topic!

Indonesian Gathering

I joined several Indonesian communities back then and made friends with lots of people. What started from online forums became real life friendships. Talking with these friends over the phone in Indonesian language also helps to ease out the homesickness.

If you live in the same town as some of your communities, do try to make the effort to join them on their events. Independence Days usually is the time where communities group held their biggest event.

Here in Jakarta, we went to American Association Halloween Party last year and it was fun as that was the first Halloween party Lil’ A had.

So, don’t underestimate the power of communities groups.

The News…

Following news from your native country also ease out the homesick feelings as you feel up to date with what’s going on there. Even catching up on TV shows from your country is easier these days.

So how do you deal with being homesick?



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33 Comments on How I Deal With Homesickness

  1. Satakieli
    August 4, 2010 at 4:15 pm (6 years ago)

    Being doubly displaced (moving from the UK, to The States, to Germany) homesickness is definitely something I’m all too familiar with! The longest I went without visiting my home country being the 2 years I lived in the States.

    This is a fabulous post, you’re right on so many points. with communication I think we’re so very lucky to have all that we do now. My parents get free calls to landlines abroad so they can call whenever, they can also use Skype to videochat with their grandson and we use facebook and blogging to keep them up to date with the day to day stuff. They also make sure to bring my favourite british goodies with them whenever they visit!

    Cooking is another great point… I’m very lucky in that there is actually a small British grocery store here. It’s very expensive as everything is imported but fantastic for when I’m craving something in particular! I also cook a lot of British food for my husband at home, luckily he loves it too!

    Community may be the thing I’m lacking. So far I’ve not met a whole lot of Brits where I am, although i know they’re here because I sometimes catch the accent when we’re in town or something. I think I’m a little too shy, but it would be wonderful to find some Brits to befriend in this little part of Germany, or wherever we end up when we’re back in the States!

    We get 2 British TV channels out here, plus I bought myself a cheap little British DVD player so that my parents can mail me DVDs of British TV shows either for me or for the kiddo!

    I still get homesick sometimes, not because I necessarily want to go back and live in England but because it’s what I grew up with for 21 years of my life!
    Satakieli recently posted..Blackberry PickingMy Profile

    • Maureen
      August 6, 2010 at 12:54 pm (6 years ago)

      Thanks for sharing, girl! Oh I remember those ‘care-love packages’ from home 😀 It feels like Christmas every time I got them.

      Ditto on the cooking part, when we were still in the US it’s hard because the closest Asian Market was a few town away from us so I did my shopping online most of the times and thankfully my husband doesn’t mind it at all. He would actually protest if I cook western food a few days straight in a row LOL.

      Getting involved with the community can be daunting, I have to admit that. I was shy too at first but luckily the communities I joined in the past were all so welcoming and warm to their new members.

      Your last sentence…I can so relate to that! That’s how I feel sometimes being back here. I love my country but honestly, if I can chose I wish we can live somewhere else LOL.

  2. Rachel
    August 4, 2010 at 6:38 pm (6 years ago)

    I guess to deal with being homesick…. which let me just say isn’t that often…. but when it does happen its things like good British food… we have a store not far from us that sells all things British….. I call my mom…. call a friend…. and just cry a lot until I get over it lol…..
    Rachel recently posted..DreamsMy Profile

    • Maureen
      August 6, 2010 at 3:15 pm (6 years ago)

      Hi Rachel, that’s so nice you have a nearby British store. When we were in Dothan, the closest Asian market was in another town and even there they don’t have Indonesian stuffs lol

  3. Esti
    August 4, 2010 at 7:10 pm (6 years ago)

    Hi Oyen, for me living in Bangkok which has plenty similarity with Balinese way of living made me miss home so much more, felt so guilty that I’ve been taking it for granted when we’re living in Bali (missing those family gathering or ignoring our surroundings). But what I miss the most is the language, my mother tongue, when you don’t have to think when you speak (literally .. hehehe) and you just simply understood what’s going on around you, as you might know Thai language is absolutely difficult to learn, I’m far from mastering it, just knew few words to get me by and it is frustrating at times.
    Anyway, not complaining, thank God for calling card and skype, I can speak Balinese to my family just a dial away :o)
    Esti recently posted..Chatuchak Weekend MarketMy Profile

    • Maureen
      August 6, 2010 at 3:19 pm (6 years ago)

      Hi Esti,
      Btw, didn’t know you have a blogspot 😀 Will bookmark your blog, girl!
      I can only imagine because the Thai language sounds so difficult but does most people speaks English there too?
      Yes, thanks God for calling cards and skype for sure! 😀

  4. Sheri Carpenter
    August 4, 2010 at 7:16 pm (6 years ago)

    Stopping by from the blogger challenge. I really like your post and your blog layout.

    • Maureen
      August 6, 2010 at 3:23 pm (6 years ago)

      Hi Sheri, thank you so much for taking the time to stop by 🙂 Appreciate your visit and kind words!

  5. Alexandra
    August 4, 2010 at 7:53 pm (6 years ago)

    I wonder if you know that you have a wonderful blog here. What great advice. I hope the right people see this, and can find a way to help themselves if they feel homesick.

    I so enjoy having met you, and coming here.

    • Maureen
      August 6, 2010 at 3:25 pm (6 years ago)

      Awww thank you – the Empress visited my blog regularly and I am so happy! 😀 Seriously, Alexandra thank you 🙂

    • Maureen
      August 6, 2010 at 3:26 pm (6 years ago)

      Awww…go visit then, girl! Are you guys still going there this summer?

  6. BLOGitse
    August 4, 2010 at 9:27 pm (6 years ago)

    No homesickness here! 🙂
    My home is where my husband is (earlier where kids were too).
    I have experienced one homesickness period. The first time we moved abroad, to Spain.
    Just before 3 months was full I had a need to go back home. Meet all my friends and speak my own language.
    After that no homesickness.
    Life is good.
    BLOGitse recently posted..screaming kids – how to protect yourself!My Profile

    • Maureen
      August 6, 2010 at 3:40 pm (6 years ago)

      That is fantastic! 😀 You are one tough, lady…

  7. Kimberly
    August 4, 2010 at 9:56 pm (6 years ago)

    This was a fantastic read. I was raised by a single mom who is also bi-polar so the moment I turned 18 I ran from home, but not too far away. My mom kept me isolated from my father’s family through words and now, 21 years later, I still have an arms length relationship with them and my mom. I’ve learned to be independent really quickly. I’m envious and curious about people, like my boyfriend, who are close to their families and have a huge cultural identity.

    But I do love the home I’ve created and I’m certain that I’d miss it if I left. But I don’t think I’m going anywhere.

    Thanks for sharing! Love your blog!

    • Maureen
      August 6, 2010 at 3:41 pm (6 years ago)

      Kimberly, thank you for opening up about your own experience. I can’t imagine how hard it must had been for you growing up that way but I can see you’re a strong independent girl now who’s enjoying life to the fullest so good on ya!

      Thanks, again girl!

  8. Gemma
    August 4, 2010 at 10:12 pm (6 years ago)

    I get really emotional when I’m homesick so I usually find a good cry helps a lot, I’ll also keep pictures of the people back home around to just take a look at when I’m feeling down.

    I’m really glad we have the technology that we have today, The internet really is a great way to keep in touch,

    Lovely post 🙂
    Gemma recently posted..Day 13- Take a Trip to the MallMy Profile

    • Maureen
      August 6, 2010 at 3:44 pm (6 years ago)

      It’s funny because when I start getting too grumpy my husband would look and asked me “You’re homesick aren’t you?” and he’s right most of the times LOL. Oh pictures really does help too because by looking at them it brought back fun times with the family.

      Thanks Gemma! 😀

  9. liz
    August 5, 2010 at 1:48 am (6 years ago)

    Communities are everything!! Just moving around the states has taught us that. And then there’s the old saying, “It takes a village,” and that statement is so true! Good for you for figuring out ways to stay in touch and have a support system.
    liz recently posted..Wordless Wednesday- Bachelorette Party EditionMy Profile

    • Maureen
      August 6, 2010 at 3:47 pm (6 years ago)

      So true about ‘it takes a village’ part! In China, I was hit with a really bad homesick after just a month there because I had no friends until I found the expat women associations there. 😀

  10. Asta
    August 5, 2010 at 11:38 am (6 years ago)

    Well .. when I was away for 6 years, although I did come home every year .. homesick was still unavoidable. For me, the power of community really worked well. At times, where you were in a place where nobody speaks your language, meeting one person who understood what you’re talking about can make a real difference in how you feel in a foreign land 🙂 It just … brightens up the day.

    Happy Thursday! 😀
    Asta recently posted..Funny Little Habits…My Profile

    • Maureen
      August 6, 2010 at 3:48 pm (6 years ago)

      So true! I felt that way when we live in Dothan. I was so happy when a waiter talked to me in Bahasa! Happy Friday, Asta!

  11. Maria
    August 6, 2010 at 8:20 am (6 years ago)

    The arem-arem and sate made me salivating… how do I deal with homesickness… similar to you I guess… My phone bill is extremely high whenever I’m in Mexico. 😀 I guess one thing that I try to do is to be open to the experience at hand coz it’s fleeting. One day I’m in Mexico missing American way of living, then when the day to come back arrive, in less than 12 hours I’ll be back in the US missing Mexican way of living. So gotta like what is in front of me.

    BTW, you’re not from Jakarta, I take it??
    Maria recently posted..Book Review – 10-10-10- A Fast and Powerful Way to Get Unstuck in Love- at Work- and with Your FamilyMy Profile

    • Maureen
      August 6, 2010 at 3:55 pm (6 years ago)

      Oh I can relate to what you’re saying, Maria! Sometimes I thought I’m being weird because when we’re in the States I miss Indonesia so much but then now that I’m here I miss the US just like the way you said.

      Originally, I’m mix…my Dad is from Ambon and my Mom is from Manado. I am so impressed that you seems to know a lot about Indonesia. You should write about your visits here 😀

  12. multiplemama
    August 6, 2010 at 12:08 pm (6 years ago)

    I love this. You are so right. When I lived in Africa I would actually make the foods my mom makes at home, even though I didn’t really like them before. When you are homesick everything helps!
    multiplemama recently posted..Anger Management the final installmentMy Profile

    • Maureen
      August 6, 2010 at 3:56 pm (6 years ago)

      You lived in Africa before? How cool is that! My Dad is currently working there and I really want to go visit him lol.

      Oh yeah, I get you whenever I cook things that my mom used to cook I’ll always thinks “Ugh, this doesn’t taste as good as hers but oh what the heck…it’s close enough” LOL

      Thanks for the visit!

  13. Mila Couch
    August 6, 2010 at 2:07 pm (6 years ago)

    Homesick, that is the first thing I felt after 3-9 months living in Australia. What you mentioned above are the same thing I did to get through it. Just got back from Jakarta last June for holiday after 1,5 years living here and now I feel a lot better.

    • Maureen
      August 6, 2010 at 4:06 pm (6 years ago)

      Hi Mila, thanks for stopping by again. “Mudik” is always a great way to satisfy our homesickness don’t you think? 😀

  14. Mrs.Mayhem
    August 6, 2010 at 8:30 pm (6 years ago)

    What a great idea to cook your familiar foods. Though somehow when I try to cook my favorite recipes, they always tastes slightly different from my mother’s cooking…

  15. adriel
    August 7, 2010 at 5:13 am (6 years ago)

    I totally hear where you’re coming from! I’ve lived overseas for 10 years and I STILL get homesick!! It’s amazing what a big part food plays isn’t it? Sometimes I just get homesick for a nice, big burrito… nothing says “west coast America” like a little Mexican food. So although mine just isn’t the same as an authentic Mexican made dinner… it at least helps to satisfy the desire as much as possible! I too use skype and facebook and looooove it. The other thing I do is try to keep some American traditions, so in our family we have a big Thanksgiving feast and also celebrate the 4th of July. Again, it’s no the same, but it sure does help! 🙂

  16. Laura
    August 8, 2010 at 8:51 pm (6 years ago)

    What a great idea for a post. I lived in Ireland for 5 years and battled with homesickness off and on. Now my husband is living in Australia and he struggles. Your tips are great – love the cooking one. I used to do that. My husband relies on skype and facebook – he manages to stay pretty well connected with what’s going on at home.
    Laura recently posted..My Top 31DBBB Blog Picks so farMy Profile


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