Homesickness is an emotion that is as old as human migration. It has been the subject of countless poems, novels, films, songs, and many other adored works of art.
While its ability to inspire is celebrated, homesickness is also feared for its ability to hamper integration, and trigger bouts of anxiety and deep depression that can sometimes lead to illness and even death.
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How and when people experience homesickness is highly variable and personal.
For many, like Brielle Zahn from the U.S., the emotion is marked by frustration. “It’s so frustrating to me that I have to go to the store, and I can only get one litre of milk at a time.” Brielle lamented the experience of making homemade ricotta. For this avid home chef, cooking helps connect her past and present.
For others, the feeling of homesickness brings about deep sadness. When Lovie Moneva from the Philippines is experiencing homesickness, she finds herself “…crying profusely for no reason.” She added that “it is more difficult because when you are crying, you don’t have someone immediately to call, someone who would be willing to listen to you at maybe 3:00 AM.”
Just as the expression of homesickness is individual, so are the triggers of these feelings. Sometimes it is the smell of a pizza, the sound of a crowd, holidays without our families, or the oppressive winters in Slovakia that provoke this sadness. Unfortunately, it can also be the loss of a loved one, just as Belle Hermosa from the Philippines experienced. Sadly, her expired residency card only complicated the matter. “Everyone was there except for me… I have six siblings and I'm the oldest. So, I wanted to be there for them.”
The only absolute cure for homesickness is returning home, but when someone cannot, they must persevere. They can sometimes look to distractions. Listening to music, cooking, spending time with their Slovak families, engaging with the expat community, and joining sports clubs are all useful ways these foreigners escape homesickness.
For Mark Roberts of Australia, work fills in the lonely, quiet hours. “I love my work. So, I will just work to take my mind off of bad feelings… It keeps me occupied.”