Almost two years ago, I made a big change. I packed up my bedroom and made the move from Toronto to Boston. Attending school in the United States was something I have wanted to do since high school, so I was confident in my decision. When I first moved here, my schedule allowed me to go home almost monthly - Toronto is only about an hour and a half flight - so it never felt that strange being away. However, this was my first holiday where going home wasn't an option, and I felt the pain.
There are many ways to survive a new city. I could tell you how to take on the professional world, hunt for an apartment, or discover the local sites. However, I think there is something more important: how to survive emotionally. Homesickness is a heart-wrenching feeling, and it weighs on you day and night. It can affect your sleep and dampen your productivity. So, if you're planning a big move or preparing for a holiday alone, here are a few tips to surviving a new city.
1) Don't forget the obvious
There are the obvious things like Facetime, WhatsApp, Skype and other apps. Make the time to call home. With everything else you have to do for school or work, it might be difficult to carve out enough time to chat with everyone you want to speak to. However, this builds up and can cause havoc on your life. There are days when nothing goes right and I'm tired, slow, upset and uninspired and I can't figure out why. That's when it hits me: I haven't heard my parents' or siblings' voices in a while. Instead of facing those hard days, just make the time to call home.
2) Continue your traditions
Most of us are rooted in our family traditions. We have the big ones - Christmas, New Years and birthdays - but there are small ones as well. My family, for example, almost always orders pizza and sits in front of the TV when the Toronto Maple Leafs are on. So, though my pizza is a single slice and my TV is now a laptop, that's what I do. Knowing my family is doing the same helps make the distance feel smaller.
3) Find a holiday home
This isn't always possible, but I suggest working hard to find one. When I moved to Boston, I met numerous other international students who were far away from home - even farther than I was. Thus, when holidays came around that I couldn't make it home for, I had people to celebrate with. Being alone on a holiday is one of the worst feelings ever, so find others to share the day with.
P.S. If you don't know anyone in your area, spend your time volunteering! You'll meet new people, help others out, and you wont spend the day alone. Win-win-win.
5) Stay motivated
Reminding yourself why you made the move is essential when you're feeling homesick. Every once in a while, take a look at your life and ask yourself "what's next?" If you're constantly working towards a new goal, be it a work promotion, a grade at school, or mastering a new skill, your homesickness won't have room to take over. Keep moving forward!
4) Enjoy your comfort food
When I'm happy, I eat pizza. When I'm sad, I eat pizza. When I'm excited, nervous, tired, lazy, angry, or scared, I eat pizza. Pizza is my comfort food, in Boston or in Toronto. So, when I'm missing my family, I eat pizza. We all want to stay healthy, but give in to your temptation. If a piece of chocolate, slice of pizza, or delicious steak makes you feel better, let it.
Whether we're in a different country, state or town, we all get homesick. Have you made a big move? If so, what do you do when you're missing home? Tell me in the comments below!