Keeping the Holiday Spirit Alive: 9 Ways for Desi Immigrants in the US to Overcome Homesickness

Raksha Bandhan is just a stone’s throw away and it seems like everywhere we look, social media and brands make sure we don’t forget it. These holidays are an excellent opportunity to rekindle family ties.

Still, Indian immigrants living abroad also present unique challenges, causing feelings of FOMO and loneliness.

In the midst of Indian festivities, many of us in the US eagerly anticipate the opportunity to return to our Indian roots and bask in the glow of family celebrations. However, a segment of us cannot break their work commitments and leave us alone in a new country.

Often one feels alone and left out and often misses out on the fun during these days.

Everyone posting pictures and videos of their parties on their social media, this often leads to depression and fear of missing out on the fun among some of us.

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While nothing can truly replicate the comfort of being close to loved ones, here are some tips you can consider to help ease feelings of isolation during the festive season while living abroad.

1. Connect with others:

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To counter homesickness and loneliness, take the opportunity to make new connections. Sharing a relaxing meal and laughter with friends, accompanied by a glass or two of wine, can lift your mood while allowing you to become familiar with your new surroundings. Do not hesitate! Extend invites to coworkers or classmates for a meal or drink. If you like to cook, consider inviting them over for a home-cooked feast. Remember that fellow expats are sailing in the same boat and will likely welcome new friendships and camaraderie. Also, locals often enjoy introducing you to their hometown, so don’t hesitate to ask. Your next lifelong friend could be just around the corner.

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2. Build a strong support system

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The feeling of loneliness often accompanies nostalgia. Being away from your family, friends, and family support network can be overwhelming. However, even if your loved ones are now a considerable distance away, you can still create a similar support system in your new country. One valuable approach is to become part of a local community, forming a close bond with a native friend who can welcome you to your family gatherings, offer assistance in times of uncertainty, and provide a compassionate ear when you face a difficult day.

3. Talk about your emotions

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You may be the only individual who is not instantly captivated by your new surroundings. Still, feeling homesick is a shared experience, and you’re probably not the only one in your situation. You may feel pressured to stay positive throughout your trip, especially if your initial expectations were high upon arrival. You may also feel obligated to present a cheerful demeanor when you communicate with people from your country.

However, there is no shame in feeling nostalgic. Remember, it’s a shared feeling that many encounter, so talking about your feelings can build understanding and support from others.

4. Turn your house/living space into a “cozy” home

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Adjusting to a new environment can cause anxiety, as humans thrive on routine. Even if you can’t transport all your belongings from home, you can make your new space comfortable and welcoming.

This will give you a sense of control over your environment. Since homesickness often stems from not feeling like your new country or city is here, transforming your living room into a welcoming haven can make a significant difference. Invest time and effort in personalizing your environment, befriend your neighbors, and take steps to cultivate a sense of belonging to this unknown place. Even small changes can help create a more welcoming environment. If home improvements aren’t your forte, explore local places that evoke comfort and familiarity, such as libraries, coffee shops, parks, or music venues; these can also become your second home away from home.

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5. Prioritize self-care:

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While feelings of isolation can sometimes be overwhelming, you can always take matters into your own hands. Although moving abroad can bring many changes, not everything has to change. If you enjoyed hobbies, groups, or teams at home, consider seeking similar experiences in your new environment. Participating in activities you enjoy can restore balance and routine to your daily life, adding a touch of familiarity to your new surroundings.

These routines can be maintained, whether it’s a sports activity, book club, rock climbing, yoga, or playing in a band. Don’t feel compelled to let go of what brings you joy. Chances are others are pursuing the same interests in your new location. Do some research to connect with them and you might discover new friends.

6. Establish a daily routine:

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Magic in the mundane: Design a daily and weekly routine that fits your lifestyle. Beyond setting a consistent time to wake up and enjoy a hearty breakfast, add some enjoyable and engaging activities. This could involve exploring local grocery markets or arranging to meet friends for drinks or sports on specific days. Studies indicate that a sense of control over routine can help reduce stress related to homesickness.

7. Plan a getaway:

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Consider taking a weekend trip from the city to places like the beach or the mountains. This break will offer you solace and remind you of the reasons why you embarked on your trip abroad. Moments like this allow you to disconnect from technology, something rare today. Take advantage of this opportunity to spend some quality time alone with a book or journal, free from the distractions of phones, TVs, and the Internet, providing a rejuvenating experience for your soul.

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8. Engage in learning:

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Studies have revealed that nostalgia often leads to distraction. Keeping the mind active through daily learning is beneficial. This is an ideal time to study a new language, master treasured recipes from your host country, or embark on a yoga, martial arts, or scuba class you found at your beloved coffee shop.

Aligning this learning experience with the culture of your host country enhances the connection. After all, your purpose is to fully participate in this vibrant culture!

9. Host a festive gathering:

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As a Desi living in the US, celebrating Indian festivals can be a way to share your rich cultural heritage with new friends and acquaintances. Hosting a gathering or event on these special occasions can create cultural exchange and networking opportunities. Invite your American friends and neighbors to the festivities and introduce them to the customs, rituals and delicious traditional cuisine of India.

Hosting these kinds of events helps you feel more connected to your roots and fosters community in your new surroundings. It is an opportunity to break down cultural barriers, educate others about your traditions, and embrace the diversity that surrounds you.

This cultural exchange can lead to deeper connections, understanding, and appreciation between different communities, making your celebrations more meaningful and memorable.

So spread the joy of Indian festivals by opening your home and heart to your new friends in the US.

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Source: vtt.edu.vn

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