This week Au Pair Wiktoria is going to talk about her own experience of feeling homesick while she was Au Pairing in Spain. If you too are struggling with this, read her article to find out her amazing tips and steps to take in order to deal with homesickness.
It's Wiktoria again. I warmly welcome you all back after the Christmas holidays! I hope you spent them just like me - in a wonderful family atmosphere :)
Before getting into today's post, I would like to wish you all the best for your 2019: may it be a breakthrough year, in which you will fulfill your goals and dreams! If you're still uncertain about joining the Au Pair program, take this new year as a possibility to leave your fears behind and embark on an amazing and unforgettable adventure. Of course, there will be times where it might be harder to leave everything you know behind. This is why today I want to focus on giving you tips on something that is very common among Au Pairs, regardless of where they go and for how long: homesickness.
Being separated from your beloved family home is sometimes associated with feelings of longing and sadness, which can get us in the least expected moments. It is worth knowing how to deal with being homesick, so as not to waste your time abroad worrying about unnecessary things. Instead, we should get the best out of our adventure, which will not last forever, and experience as much as possible while gaining many wonderful memories!
Prepare to feel homesick
Bare in mind that these are my personal tips and hints on how I dealt with feeling homesick. Everyone reacts differently to these type of situations. Before going to Spain, while I was doing my research about becoming an Au Pair, I came across a lot of advice on how to deal with homesickness. Honestly, I took it with a pinch of salt and thought it would not happen to me, and even if it would, it would only take a few minutes to pass. This was a big mistake, because my homesickness caught me more or less two months after arriving, when one of my friends in Poland was celebrating a birthday party. My friends called me to tell me that they were very sad that I couldn't be there with them. It affected me very much and at the end of the call, my mood was changed for the worst. I started to miss my family and my friends and I even wanted to buy a ticket home to go back on that same day. I couldn't come to terms with the fact that I was so far away from home and that I couldn't give a hug to my loved ones, or go out with a best friend for a coffee.
My ways of dealing with homesickness
It took several hours to get myself together. The first step I took to improve my mood was to talk to my Host Family. Having a sincere and honest conversation about how you are feeling with the Host Parents will definitely help. You are living with them and seeing them every day and they will surely be happy to help you. I cannot count how many times I felt better after a chat with my Host Mum.
My second tip would be a complete change in your approach to the situation. First of all, we need to remind ourselves of the aims of the Au Pair program: one of the main goals is to meet new people. Therefore, instead of remembering the wonderful moments with our friends, we should create new ones with other people who can become our loved ones too! A trip, above all, gives you the chance to meet people from different parts of the world. When I realized how important it was for me to make new friends, I smiled broadly and went out onto the streets. In Spain people are very open: they start conversations really easily and thanks to that I gained new friends quite quickly. For less daring people, I would recommend to check out Au Pair groups on facebook: I found a lot of friends also through those.
Find distraction and meet other Au Pairs
I would also suggest to find a hobby! Very banal, but so helpful! When, after two weeks in Spain, spending time on the wonderful beach became boring (I mean, how long can you sit on the beach for?!), I started to look for other alternatives to spend my free time. Most Au Pairs sign up for a gym membership after their arrival; I did it too, and I think it is a great opportunity to meet new people. For instance, I made friends with a gym employee, who was one of the only people that could speak English to me when my Spanish was still at a very low level. She introduced me to other employees and to other members of the gym, which became also my friends. Thanks to this, I had motivation and willingness to attend classes, because I always saw some familiar faces and could exchange a few words with them. Besides, I signed up for a Spanish course, which was also a great decision. I also know Au Pairs that have attended dance classes, have started surfing, taekwondo and other activities that made them happy. All these activities will make your daily routine more interesting and make you feel less lonely and homesick.
What also helped me a lot was to have photos with friends or family that I hung to the walls of my room. I didn't forget about my favorite scented candles, which reminded me of my family home, and I also brought pillows and blankets from my home in Poland. It may sound strange, but it really helps. In the local Spanish stores I also bought various posters and other items that made my room more cozy and I really liked spending my free time there.
Create new memories
Travel planning is my last piece of advice. When I was having a bad day and the children did not want to listen to me, and my only thought was wanting to be at home, I started to plan trips in my head, and then I tried to put my plans into action. I would start looking for somebody to come with me, usually another Au Pair, cheap tickets and accommodation, and interesting places that are worth a visit. The Au Pair program gives you the chance to travel and when we start to miss home, we should remember what prompted us to make the decision to start this adventure in the first place. So whenever I was having a bad day, I would immediately send a message to my Au Pair friends and planned trips together. We were all on the same boat, that's why we helped each other and we tried to make sure that all of us, without exception, would return home with the greatest baggage of wonderful memories.
I hope that these tips will prove useful to some of you and will add hope and motivation to action. I can confidently say now the most important thing is to not lose yourself in your homesickness: keep your focus on your desire to achieve your dreams. Remember that your Au Pair experience will not last forever! So don't spend your time feeling sad, enjoy every second of it for the memory it will create! Don't worry, be happy! It's your moment!
That’s all for today.
I’m looking forward to hear your opinions about this topic!