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Handling Homesickness and Culture Shock

It is quite likely that you will be homesick-- longing for your home or family-- at some point while you are an au pair abroad. It is only natural and is not something that should embarrass you. It is not a sign of failure to admit that you're missing home. By travelling abroad as an au pair, you have made a bold statement of independence. Homesickness may feel like you are backtracking in some way, but it is not. It is likely that you will miss something, but what that is could be anything – conversations with friends, the colour of the road signs, people speaking your language, TV advertisements, or recognizable money. Trying to judge what you will miss is difficult, as you will never know until it happens.

Handling Homesickness and Culture Shock

There are a few key ways of dealing with homesickness and the “disenchantment” phase of culture shock. The “cures” are as diverse as the people who are in the au pair program and you'll soon discover what suits you. Luckily, homesickness is usually mild and doesn't last long. And there are things you can do to make sure it doesn't spoil your fun. First, talk about it with people who care for you: Talk about it with the people. Share your feelings with your host family so they understand how you are feeling. Talk to other au pairs who can empathize. Knowing you are not the only one dealing with this will ease your feelings of loneliness, and you might feel better when you cheer up someone else.


Be patient with you - no one settles in immediately

Focus on the “here and now.” Try to think of it as being on a long vacation. Remember that these memories will last your lifetime.

Do something you enjoy every day

When you're having fun, you're less likely to spend time thinking about people and things you miss. Continue what you enjoy doing – whether it’s an evening walk after the kids go to bed, reading in your native language, or going to church. Write your own list of things that are good for you so that you can refer to the list when you need to. Be creative! You could include things like take a bath, go to a public place and people watch, listen to your music, or treat yourself to your favourite something.

Keep your sense of humour

Laugh rather than cry at any cross-cultural mistakes. Telling your host children about frustrating cross-cultural experiences can often help you see the humour in them. Finally, if you are having trouble combating a feeling of homesickness, take a moment to review your expectations. In the long run, understanding British culture will help you better understand your own culture by challenging you to view your home country’s ways from a new perspective. Ideally, you will become more tolerant and understanding of people and ways of life that are different from your own, and your au pair experience will truly have been a life-changing one.