Are you homesick in the Netherlands? As expats who live here, we know what you mean! Living in another country, even if it’s just for a short time, can be very exciting. But it can also be scary and lonely at times. So, if you find yourself aching and longing for home, read on for some helpful tips to fight homesickness.
What is Homesickness?
Homesickness is a common feeling that can happen to anyone away from home. It’s a feeling of nostalgia, longing, and sadness that can happen when you’re away from family, friends, and your usual environment.
How do you know if you’re homesick in the Netherlands? Well, these are the common symptoms of homesickness: feelings of sadness, anxiety, loneliness, and even helplessness. You may also show physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, and difficulty sleeping.
Even though it’s normal to miss home, it’s important to deal with it, so it doesn’t turn into a big problem. For example, it’s normal to feel lonely and have trouble sleeping occasionally, but if you don’t do anything about it, it could lead to depression, anxiety, or even social withdrawal. This could negatively affect how well you do at school, at work, and your new home in the Netherlands.
What to Do When Feeling Homesick in the Netherlands
Here’s what you can do whenever a bout of homesickness hits you.
1. Get in touch with friends and family back home (but not too much)
Sometimes you just need to connect to the familiar. So, reach out to family and friends through phone calls, video chats, and social media to help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. However, don’t do this too often. Why? Because it’s also vital for you to create a NEW life in your new surroundings.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stay in regular contact with people back in your native country; just don’t use it as your “go-to” solution for homesickness. If you do, it will reinforce your feelings of isolation and longing.
2. Keep familiar things around
Don’t completely leave home behind; bring pieces of it with you. Apart from pictures of family and friends, bring comforting objects with you. For example, bring a childhood blanket, hang an object that shows your cultural identity, etc.
3. Engage in activities that provide a sense of familiarity
Does your family love to cook and eat together? If so, cook familiar foods to provide comfort and a sense of home.
4. Find fellow citizens in your area
One of the beautiful things about the Netherlands is that many people from different cultures live here. You might be surprised at just how many fellow citizens you can find in your neighborhood if you just go out and keep your eyes and ears open.
5. Join an expat community
In an expat group, you can connect with other people from various cultures with whom you can share similar experiences and challenges. Talking to people who have been through (or are going through) the same things as you can help you deal not just with homesickness but also with culture shock or language problems.
6. Develop healthy coping habits
Whatever you do, DO NOT isolate and stay indoors. This will just intensify your homesickness. Instead:
- Stay active: Exercise regularly and participate in physical activities to maintain a healthy mind and body.
- Focus on the positive: Many people want to, but not everyone gets a chance to experience new situations and the opportunities they offer.
- Find the beauty in being in another country: Hey, let’s not forget the thrill and excitement that living in another country can provide. Homesickness is natural, but it’s also looking back to the familiar. Wouldn’t it be great to embrace the unfamiliar (new) too?
Our Tip: Where are you staying in the Netherlands? We’ve covered all the Dutch provinces on this site so feel free to check them out and discover the best things to see and do in each area.
7. Take steps to truly integrate into Dutch society
We often crave the familiar because we haven’t fully integrated into our new surroundings. Here are a few things to think about.
- How’s your Dutch? Have you taken any steps to learn the local language? Just like any place in the world, it’s easier to find new friends if you speak the local tongue or know a few handy phrases at least.
- How many Dutch friends do you have? Learn through the locals! Dutchies are some of the most open-minded and unselfish people I know, so you’d do well to find and keep Dutch friends.
Great Read: Expat Guide: How to Integrate into Dutch Culture
8. Create new habits
The Netherlands is a great place for activities such as walking, hiking, canal cruising, road trips, weekend getaways, and so on. One person I know said she and her husband go for long walks in the woods every Sunday, which they never did in their native country. Another expat told me they’ve fully embraced the Dutch oliebollen (fried dough balls) tradition every New Year’s Eve. So much so that they make it each time they visit their home country.
I hope the above tips help you whenever you’re feeling homesick in the Netherlands. In general, dealing with homesickness requires finding a balance between re-connecting with the familiar and opening up to the new. Don’t forget to give yourself time as well. Adjusting to a new environment takes a while, so be kind and patient with yourself!