Permanent Change of Station (PCSing) overseas as a military family can be one of the most enriching experiences of your life. The memories of journeys and seeing sights will last a lifetime, but the sting of homesickness is a reality for even the most seasoned traveler. This can especially be the case when living in a country where English is not the first language. However, it doesn’t have to always be that way. Following our top tips will not only ease the melancholy of homesickness, but it may also result in finding that you are home wherever you go.
Talk to Locals
Any little store or restaurant you go in, chat a little bit with the cashier or waitress about the town/city you find yourself in. If you have any questions, ask them! Locals love to talk about their hometown and will feel honored that you find their hometown interesting enough to visit. Human connections make the world smaller and cause us to feel invigorated and excited about life. You will find that most employees, especially if they’re students, possess very good English skills and will be happy to put them to use.
Sometimes it just takes hearing a familiar voice on the phone or seeing love ones on Skype or Facetime is all you need to remind how close home really is. There’s no reason to suffer silently. Reach out to any friend or family member back home even if just for a few minutes. Just hearing a familiar voice can banish homesick pangs instantly.
Take a Walk or a Bike Ride
Not only can physical exercise be psychologically healthy by curbing melancholy, but it can also clear your head. Usually when someone is homesick, they are spending too much time thinking. Take a walk, go hiking or jump to explore your new home instead of been bogged down with melancholy thoughts.
Journal or Blog
Consider yourself a travel adventure writer who is actually experiencing a culture and society that other people want to learn about. Take it upon yourself to journal or blog all of your discoveries about the land you are in so that you may tell others someday. Everywhere in the world is of interest to someone in the world and other military families sure appreciate the help and advice of others in similar situations.
Eat the Best Local Dish
Treat yourself to the best local foods and drinks in town. There is no better way to embrace the new culture you find yourself in than by eating the local favorites. Great food reminds us all how lucky we are to be alive, not to mention how lucky we are to travel. In Germany there are many tasty food options for you to indulge in… spätzle, schnitzel, curry wurst, kuchen, berliner and let us not forget the beer and wine. The more carbs the better. Trust me.
Try Something New
When in Europe, try something European. Learn to ski, climb mountains, go on nature walks or do a wine-tasting- find a new hobby that you have never tried before. Do something different that will forever remind you of your time here and create some wonderful memories. You might end up being homesick for Germany by the time you PCS back stateside.
Join a Club
Along with your new-found hobby, try joining a new club or group, perhaps even a German one. Having a regular social event like this in your calendar will give you something to look forward to, even if it’s scary at first (go with another American friend, if it helps). You will find that the locals are incredibly keen to mix with Americans and have a long history of doing so. Making new friends will help you feel more at home here as they will help you find settling in a little easier.
Learn the Language
By speaking a little German you will quickly find everything does not feel so alien. Also the warm response you will get from locals when you try to talk German is like getting a big hug. Try just a few words at first, then consider taking a lesson, perhaps. After a while you will start to understand signs, menus and instructions. Soon everything will start to feel a little easier.
Fall in Love
That’s right, fall in love with Germany as it is steeped with fascinating culture, customs, art and a long history dating to AD 100. This beautiful country located in Western Central Europe has the population of 82,314,900 and consists of 16 states. The four largest cities are Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Cologne. And between these cities lie magnificant castles and palaces, marvellous architecture, picturesque mountains, flowing rivers, winding wine streets, alluring cobble streets, delectable dishes, and a whole lot more! With its very sophisticated infrastructure, it’s easy to get out and discover this incredible country. You will surely fall in love if you embrace your surroundings and remember, you are here for just a short time – learn to love every minute of it.