By Ken, Teacher in Warsaw


Hello everyone, it’s good to see you again! 


Having lived in many countries and moved cities a ridiculous number of times I have experienced homesickness on some of my travels. It isn’t a nice feeling being away from family and friends and the world can feel like an extremely lonely place. As much as living and working in different countries has been one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done, I’d be lying if I said that it’s all been plain sailing. In this blog I will tell you what I’ve done to overcome homesickness. 


Expat groups

Unless you’re going to Antarctica or some other super remote part of the world, there will be several expat groups where you can join and socialise and take part in varying activities. It’s a great way to meet new people and also share experiences with. Chances are, a lot of those expats will also have gone through homesickness at some point too and will understand what you’re going through. There are also many apps you can use (I used the Meetup app in Tokyo) and also there are many groups you can join on Facebook. If you have social anxiety and/or you aren’t very comfortable around people that you don’t know then this might be really daunting, but it’s honestly worth it! If you don’t want to socialise with random strangers however, you should…….

Group of English teachers meeting together at a bar

Keep in touch with friends and family

Seems obvious…but if you’re feeling down and depressed, thousands of miles from home and no way of visiting home soon then sometimes it feels easier to just curl up in the foetal position and suffer in silence. If you’re feeling down, talk to someone. It will make the world of difference.


Cultural immersion

Something that made me feel homesick in Japan was not being able to do simple things easily. For example when I was just starting to learn Japanese even going to the supermarket was an awful ordeal which took much, much longer than it normally would  have. The number of times I bought the wrong thing was so frustrating!


The simple cure would be of course to just….learn the language. However, if you’re learning one of the most notoriously difficult languages in the world it isn’t exactly going to happen overnight (apparently it takes 5 years to become fluent in Japanese but I would argue with ANYONE that Polish is much more difficult!). So what can we do? Despite not being familiar with the language, it’s a good idea to try and appreciate and get used to your surroundings and the differences between cultures. It can be very overwhelming, but after a while hopefully you’ll feel at home and begin to really enjoy and become enriched by the culture. Go try the food and drink, check out the local sights…..and be careful not to be trampled on by Godzilla if you’re in Tokyo! 


Keep busy

A good way to overcome homesickness is to make sure you’re doing something so that you’re not focusing on feeling bad. Whether it be exercising, going to the gym, drawing or reading a book it’s a great idea to keep productive (and if you’re exercising it’s great for the mood also!) Take time to learn a new skill and do things to improve yourself. Learn to enjoy and be comfortable in your own company. Yes it’s difficult and it took me a LONG time to be able to do this, but if I’m able to do it then it’s possible! 


Learn (some of) the language

Unless you’re some Einstein-esque person you’ll probably not be able to speak a foreign language fluently within a year. BUT I would definitely recommend at least trying to learn some basic words and phrases. It’ll make you feel more at home if you’re able to read and speak some vocabulary. You’ll be in the supermarket and you’ll have a EUREKA! Moment when you suddenly realise that you can read and understand more than you previously thought. Also being able to speak to the natives in their language is a huge plus! 


Healthy food for teachersGood habits

When you’re feeling homesick (or any really negative feeling for that matter) it’s super easy to succumb to temptations and bad habits. And of course, doing such actions only makes us feel worse.


Simple things such as getting up in the morning and having a sleep cycle are really important (If you’re in your 30s and above you’ll know!). Other habits I would recommend are listening to podcasts, eating healthy, watching motivational videos and just keeping yourself focused and away from anything that might exacerbate your negative feelings. Thanks for coming to my TED talk. 


Final thoughts

The good news is that homesickness gets easier as time passes. If you can survive the first year then you’re golden. The first year is easily the toughest as everything is new and somewhat scary. Once you’ve done it once or twice it’ll be a piece of cake, or a roll with butter as we say in Poland! Of course if it really gets too hard you can always hop on the next flight home. 


If you feel like taking the plunge into teaching abroad, check out our programs!