My first three months as an expat have passed in a blur of new experiences, places and faces. I honestly haven’t really stopped to think about missing home. There has, of course, been regular facetime’s with family and friends, and whilst I’ve loved catching up on their news, things have been exciting enough in Singapore to stop me missing home too much.
But last night marked the end of a three week visit from my parents and sister. And it hit me suprisingly hard, I’m a long way from home!
For the first time since moving to Singapore, the thought of being here was tinged with a little sadness. It got me thinking, why? What is it that is making me sad?
Of course there is the obvious – I miss my family and friends. I’m lucky that my time as an expat is during these modern times. Technology has made it so easy to stay in touch, and I still regularly see the faces of my nearest and dearest. I exchange long emails, a luxury I never made the time for before, I have video calls with my grandparents, and I’m still part of group chats – although my contributions are usually 7 hours late.
But it’s not just the week to week contact, it’s being around for major life events, birthdays, illnesses, new jobs. My husband and I have become an Aunty and Uncle for the first time since being here. My sister-in-law’s beautiful baby will be 4 months old before we meet him face to face, and then probably over a year old before we see him again. That is hard to deal with.
My (brief) research into homesickness says that’s often its also missing who you were in that place. In the UK I had an identity. I had always worked full time for charities, raising essential funds for work that I was passionate about. Leaving my job to come to Singapore (for my husband’s job) meant stepping into the great unknown with no guarantee of a role. I very much saw this as a positive. The doors are open and I can reshape my life if I want to. Opportunities are now starting to present themselves, and I’m confident that before long I’ll be enjoying new challenges, have a solid friendship group and feel like I’m back on track.
The foods, sights and smells of home are affecting me less than expected. I’m a long-term cheese addict, but am coping surprisingly well with it now being a rarity. I love the British countryside, and whilst I am looking forward to visits home, it’s not something I yearn for. There are days in Singapore when I would love a blissful 24 degrees, but the English weather is certainly not something I miss.
Homesickness is a state of mind. If I focus on the positives of being here, and stay practical about what it is I actually miss, then I can stop it from being a big deal. My family and friends are always at the end of a video call, which I’d rate as being approximately 63% as good as the real thing.