Au Pair Tips: What to Do If You Feel Homesick
How you can fight homesickness and have an amazing au pair experience.
When you travel far away from your friends and family, it is natural to experience homesickness at some point or another. Almost every au pair needs an adjustment period to settle into their new surroundings and, even then, pangs of nostalgia can hit at any point.
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But thankfully there are things you can do to lessen the sting of missing home. Here are 7 tips to keep homesickness to a minimum:
1. Bond with your host family
The first people you will have the opportunity to bond with are your host family. As they will be providing your home away from home, it is important to make a big effort with them when you arrive. If you develop a close relationship with your host family, it will help to alleviate loneliness and potential homesick feelings.
When you feel homesick, the instinctive reaction is to draw into yourself and shut down. But this only makes the problem worse. Instead, talk to your host parents and tell them how you are feeling. They may not be able to guess what is wrong but, if they know, they might be able to comfort you or make you feel more at home.
2. Get to know your area
Getting to know a new town or city can take some time but, before long, this unknown place will become familiar and, hopefully, a source of comfort.
When you first arrive, do as the tourists do. Go sightseeing, check out the museums and galleries and look up tips for the best restaurants and cafes. Before you know it, you will have discovered your favourite places in your new area and can start developing routines and live like a local.
If you have a hobby, such as a sport or you play an instrument, find local clubs that you can join. This will keep you busy, make you feel at home and introduce you to like-minded people that you can bond with.
3. Make friends
In addition to joining local clubs, your language course will provide a good network of young people in similar situations to you. You will likely meet other students, travellers and au pairs. While the first few days might feel a little awkward, do your best to get talking to the students in your class and after a while you will feel confident to arrange a meet-up outside of class.
Ask your host parents if they know of other au pairs in the area. This is a great way to meet people when you first arrive. And if you have a few au pairs as friends, they will understand what you are going through and provide a great support network whenever you do feel homesick. Likewise, if they feel homesick, you can provide support and comfort in return.
4. Contacting home
If a bout of homesickness hits, it stands to reason that the first thing you will want to do is call home and hear about everything that is going on so you don’t feel like you are missing out. However, this is not always the best thing to do. If you spend too much time on Skype or FaceTime to home, you will never really settle into your new environment and it can make the homesickness worse and more regular.
With that said, allotting a certain amount of time to catch up with friends and family at home can be a source of comfort. But do it in moderation so that it doesn’t hinder your au pair experience.
5. Decorate your room
When you arrive, decorating your room yourself can help make it feel like it is really yours. Ask your host parents if you have permission to hang pictures, fairy lights or whatever it is that will help you settle into your new abode.
If you have space, bring your bedsheets from home. Or, alternatively, go and buy your own set when you arrive. Surrounding yourself with a few of your own possessions can help with the settling in process.
6. Find a routine
One of the biggest causes of homesickness is not knowing what to do with yourself. Creating and settling into a regular routine will give you a sense of purpose and fulfilment.
You will have your work schedule detailed in your au pair contract which is a good place to start. Book your language course for your off-work hours and already you will see your schedule start to fill up.
If your regular week is filled with au pair duties, language course, sports or music club, museum visits and hanging out with your new friends, you won’t have the time to be homesick!
Take advantage of your situation and see as much of your new country as possible. If you have weekends or occasional weekdays off, plan trips to neighbouring towns or cities. Ideally, you can plan this with other au pairs or friends from your language course. Having something exciting to look forward to will help distract you from those homesick feelings.
The most important thing to know about homesickness is that it is completely normal and not something to be feared. Even the oldest and most seasoned of travellers can experience homesickness. But if you take steps to keep busy, there is no reason that it needs to turn your au pair experience into a negative one.
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