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Homesickness, veterans and newbies all welcome!

(56 Posts)
Bebespain Sun 22-Jan-17 13:31:02

Hi everybody and happy New Year!

I decided to start this thread as I am a veteran at feeling homesick (10 years out of the UK) and despite a period of slight remission, lately I feel I am right back to square one.

I had been reading another thread in the Overseas category and I can see I'm not the only one finding that homesickness actually gets worse as the years roll by.

Of course, there is little anybody can do or say to change my current situation and yes, I know life could be much worse, but I do think that severe homesickness can be crippling and not many people really understand how it feels. I just think it would be helpful to have a thread where others going through similar feelings can support each other...oh, and let off a bit of steam while we're at it smile

In my case I think being recently diagnosed with a chronic health condition, Brexit, plus the fact that we will be unable to make our annual trip back "home" this Summer has knocked me for six. I feel totally stuck and as my children get older (plus the fact that my husband doesn't want to go back to the UK) the realisation that I will most likely have to grow old here, is an absolute killer.

Anyone else...?

languagelearner Sun 22-Jan-17 13:39:01

Just out of curiosity, in what country are you now?

Bebespain Sun 22-Jan-17 13:47:10

Hi languagelearner,

I am in Spain. Where are you?

languagelearner Sun 22-Jan-17 14:57:02

I'm in Sweden (hence my username). But it's my home country... I couldn't imagine living in another country, especially not one where one doesn't speak my mother tongue. That said, many people enjoy Spain.... I get your point though. It's more difficult when it's in a country where they don't speak your mother tongue, I suppose it's easier to settle in, say, the US, Australia, New Zealand, etc. ...

I suppose living in a foreign country is a little bit like being a free-floating bubble, a bit isolated, not able to connect to the culture the one does with ones own home culture, the one you grew up with.

Do you speak fluent Spanish? That might be important to better grapple with the home sickness, I guess. Meaning, it's probably worse if you can't follow local newspapers, speak to your next-door neighbours etc.

I once had an English colleague but he spoke Swedish so well, albeit with a funny accent, so we thought of him just as one of the guys. Never gave it a thought.

languagelearner Sun 22-Jan-17 15:00:02

I suppose it's impossible for you to take a quick trip on your own back home, yourself? Surely there are cheap tickets available through Ryanair and the like.

fatowl Sun 22-Jan-17 23:37:55

I'm feeling it too- 12 years away, dad is terminally ill. Only have dd15 still here, dd22 is working in the UK and DD19 is away at uni.
DH is a grumpy arse due to the job most of the time

Planning to return July 2018 (when dd15 has finished GCSEs) so my end is in sight, but most of my friends have left. But I have an elderly dog who I worry about - I doubt she'll be fit enough to ship home.

I work part time, and the other staff are lovely, but I'm the only foreigner, and we don't have a huge amount in common. (ie most of them are Chinese - huge holiday coming up here, but it's all family orientated)

languagelearner Mon 23-Jan-17 17:13:27

But surely a cheap ticket with Ryanair (or similar) must be available? Chinese people are nice people from those few I know. I had school friends who were Chinese (well, technically they were UK citizens at the time, but still!)

Do you use Skype to keep in touch with your dad? If not, try to! You could call him every day if you would want to.

A lot of people have lost their friends, I've seen several threads here on mumsnet, and also at other places, people posting about having lost their friends and looking for new ones. It seems it is pretty unavoidable after the age of 30.

Ancienchateau Mon 23-Jan-17 17:23:51

Hi Bebespain, we have met before on these types of threads. I feel so sorry for you as you must feel very trapped. If your DH is not prepared to move, can you take regular trips back, even on your own just for a weekend say? Easier and cheaper on your own and whilst the home sickness will still be there, they are little "fixes" to keep you going sane. DH will have to accept it as part of the deal if he refuses to budge?

I've only been here for 4 years but I absolutely hate it. I've lived in a few different countries so know it's just this place. I've tried everything, speak the language but it's not working. It's not going to get better either. The homesickness is so debilitating that my life feels like it's on hold until we go home which is such a sad waste.

flowers for you

languagelearner Mon 23-Jan-17 19:39:09

Are you two in the same country? I'm sorry you both have to struggle so hard.

KeyserSophie Tue 24-Jan-17 05:27:47

Chinese people are nice people from those few I know.

They're as nice as people of any other nationality (i.e. there are nice and not nice ones), but, at least in HK (not sure where fatowl is)

(1) Most are not really interested in socialising with westerners outside work or in passing (e.g.) chatting at the school gate (2) Getting mandarin or cantonese to a conversational level takes years and some level of immersion, and understandably locals dont necessarily want to speak English socially even if they can.

fatowl Sorry about your dad. Must be hard not being able to visit him more in person. And I hear you on the friends. Been here 8 years and while I've met some great people, I'm getting tired of the constantly revolving cast. The kids lose at least 20% of their class every summer. Think it will be worse this yar due to the lay offs. A good friend left at the weekend. Made worse by the fact she's a Kiwi, so even if we maybe see her while we're still in Asia, when we return home, that will probably be it.

scottswede Tue 24-Jan-17 12:00:36

I can relate too. I have been doing the hoakey-koakey here for nearly 7 years now. My main problem is that I really don't feel a huge pull back home either. I have been out of the UK nearly longer than I been in it so I don't have a lot of ties left. I still consider it my home though.
I don't want to grow old here either, but the longer we stay the bigger the chance that will happen.
I don't want to live in this half existence here. One foot in the "I'm an ex-pat" door, one foot in the "I'm practically a local" door and not really fitting in either.
It's exhausting. There is always something to remind me that this is not my country or my home.

fatowl Tue 24-Jan-17 13:40:31

I'm in Malaysia

I think my problem is that I don't fit with the expats, there are still a lot of people on traditional packages - ie Wives at home, so there's a big tennis/lunch/gin scene, which I definitely don't fit with.
I work part time at a lovely little private school - nice students and staff, but I don't really fit there as I don't have much in common with my colleagues out of school- so a social life is not going to come there, even though it's a nice place to work.

I hear you all on the revolving door. DD loses friends every single year. People say we've been lucky we've been able to stay twelve years and it's great DD has had such stability. But it's really not as her entire peer group changes every 2-3 years.

Ancienchateau Tue 24-Jan-17 15:59:46

languagelearner, no I'm in France not Spain.

KeyserSophie Wed 25-Jan-17 03:37:57

fatowl Yes - that's tough. One good thing about HK is that the expat population is much more diverse than it was- there are definitely a lot of expats here who are not particularly well off, and increasing numbers using the gvernment school system either by necessity or preference. Very few people on full packages now other than Inv Banking back office staff on relatively short term secondments and very specialist staff, since most employers can hire locally if they want to. Most of my girlfriends work and quite a few are the main or at least equal earner - you can work on a dependents visa here with no restrictions which helps and it's also pretty easy to set up your own business. I work for my old UK employer in the financial sector and there are quite a few expats in my office to socialise with - it's kind of a bit segregated though. I also do a sport and met quite a lot of people through that.

My dsis is doing the government run NET scheme next year and will probably be in a school with no English speaking colleagues- that will be tough I imagine.

languagelearner Wed 25-Jan-17 04:59:26

Ancien, j'ai pensé que vous étiez en France, selon votre nom de l'utilisateur. (Gosh, this is really going badly!) Mais, en effet, j'ai pris des lecons en francais il y a très longtemps, c'était en 1994, un cours intensif en Belgique. Totally, totally out of practice now, I feel, I really should find myself a French forum like mumsnet to hang out on I guess... or perhaps take to the habit of reading a morning paper on a daily basis like I did back when I took those classes.

Really had to bridge a cultural gap. I should know, my cousins were French-speaking but keeping in touch never worked out well. Not even once. Always stilted to the point of feeling more connected to any random person on this web forum, actually. At least I understand what you guys are saying.

languagelearner Wed 25-Jan-17 05:03:08

Just out of curiosity, Scott, but are you a Swede called Scott, or a Scot living in Sweden? Or nothing of the two? (I sort of couldn't miss your choice of user name).

isthistoonosy Wed 25-Jan-17 05:16:14

I'm also in Sweden (from the UK) I get homesick more for the missed relationships for my kids if that makes sense. They will never be close to my family, their cousins, aunts and uncles etc in the UK.
I don't mix with any expats due to where I live but work with about half swedes half newcomers. Nearly 8 yrs in and I'm only just starting to feel like a local and part of that has been chatting with other locals and them telling me they barely talk to others, don't often go out for a drink etc either grin

Not started to think about being old here other than the practicalities of pension, housing as our kids are still young. Maybe that's when feelings change?

languagelearner Wed 25-Jan-17 05:42:02

Well, toonosy it's great progress in just eight years and already feeling like a local. I'm born here (a Sweden) and still struggle to feel like a local, at times (although technically being one, I guess).

(Here's a special link for toonosy only, it's a good and telling post on a forum a bit the equivalent of mumsnet on which people talk about how hard it is to find friends up here:

languagelearner Wed 25-Jan-17 05:43:27

^ in Sweden. I intended to write 'a Swede' but forgot to edit the entire sentence. (I do this type of editing mistake quite often on these web forums....)

MangosteenSoda Wed 25-Jan-17 06:03:00

Also in HK and while I feel at home here, I don't have the same kind of social circle I would have at home. Partly due to the transient nature of society and partly due to the work situation described by Keyser.

We have moved countries 5 times in 14 years. It gets exhausting.

PoochSmooch Wed 25-Jan-17 06:24:22

Hello fellow migrants smile

I'm six years out of the Uk now, 3 in the ME and 3 in France. I've never once been homesick until late last year. And I'm not even sure now if it's homesickness as such? But I'm pretty sure I can't stay here for a growing list of reasons, and suddenly gloomy old angleterre looks attractive in comparison.

I'm pretty well integrated - I speak the language well enough (with an 'orrible accent), have friends, am involved in local life, but...I'm always aware that I'm a foreigner. And i'm just not sure that the life I have here, nice as it is, is a fulfilling one for me.

ancienchateau, that sounds dreadful. Is there any prospect of your being able to leave?

isthistoonosy Wed 25-Jan-17 06:38:14

Thanks learner
I think it helps that my dad was an expat in the UK for 30 yrs and even though he spoke English when he arrived he was always homesick and only mixed with other expats from 'home'. But over time it became clear he missed a place that didn't exist anymore - people had moved on or died and the whole country was a different place. It made him ill, or being ill made him more homesick. We were never really sure.

And on that cheery note I should get myself to work. smile

scottswede Wed 25-Jan-17 06:50:29

I think most of us keep waiting for the moment that everything falls into place. I know I have done still doing it.
Once I learn the lingo I'll feel more settled..... Once I get a job I'll feel more settled....Once I finished decorating I'll feel more settled.... Once I've have my 56th trip home I'll feel more settled... Once I start buying apples instead of oranges ..... My list goes on and on.
I have periods when I think "Yeah, I can do this, it's not too bad here after all" Then WHAM from nowhere this huge "What the f¤#&/, I can't do this anymore" feeling descends and i'm back to "Once I.........

Ancienchateau Wed 25-Jan-17 07:19:18

Languagelearner, there's nothing like a french MN. The French generally don't like chatting to strangers. They tend to have small, long term friendship circles, preferably which started in maternelle.

PoochSmooch, going home summer 2018 at the latest smile

I hope the OP is okay?

Paperthinspider Wed 25-Jan-17 07:52:49

Thank you for this thread/forum, it's really helpful to read how other people are feeling, I went to work overseas when I was 19 and have worked/lived in many countries, including HK but of course without children, and I loved all the experiences I had, but now I'm living in rural France and can't bear it, DC seem to love it (they are half French) but like a pp wrote, sometimes it's tolerable, other times it's the opposite, I spend my time reminiscing about the past or planning for the future but not really in the present, which is a shame.

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