Let’s face it — after spending any length of time overseas, sooner or later you’re bound to feel a bit homesick. Chances are this won’t happen at first, as your first days, weeks, and even months in Spain will be a sort of ‘honeymoon period’, full of new experiences and emotions. As time wears on, though, eventually you’ll face a moment when you miss your life from back home — things like friends, family, pets, your car, your neighborhood, your favorite restaurant, or whatever else you may have left behind. In moments like these, you will perhaps even question what made you leave everything to come to Spain. Feeling this way at times is inevitable, so there’s nothing we can do to avoid it. We can, however, be ready.
First of all, let’s make one thing clear: being far from home and feeling sad on occasion because you miss things and people is normal. What may vary, however, is how soon you might begin to feel this way or your personal circumstances that could cause you to do so. Some people are more emotional than others, and as a result, may be more prone to being homesick, whereas others may not have this tendency. What or who have you left behind? If you’ll be maintaining a long-distance relationship, it’s obviously going to be more emotionally taxing than if you weren’t; if you’re very close with your best friend or a family member, the same thing is true. Whatever the case may be, let’s talk about some ways to combat feeling homesick while in Madrid.
Stay in touch and fill your belly
First and foremost, the best thing to do is stay in touch with everyone from back home. Although initially you’ll be focusing on meeting new people, there’s still no substitute for having a chat with someone who knows you well and with whom you can share your heart. Fortunately, communication is easier now than ever, so the possibilities are virtually endless. Whether you use Skype, Facetime, Facebook, or just a calling card, all your friends and family are just a dial tone or text away. Also, a popular app in Spain— and all over the world it seems —used to text and send photos is WhatsApp. Though barely used in America, this application allows you to text anywhere in the world via data networks. This way you know you text is going to be free, unlike when you use Apple’s messaging program, which often switches to the ‘green’ texting mode due to a sudden bad connection, resulting in two-euro text messages.
Certainly nothing will make you feel more at home than having some ‘good ole’ American cooking. Fortunately, or perhaps for better or worse, Madrid is full of American restaurants and there are many places where products from the States can be bought. Most of the major fast food chains have locations in Madrid, whether it’s McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, or even Taco Bell. There are also a fair amount of sit-down places that are American or serve American food. If that doesn’t do it for you, you can always pick up some American products from stores like Taste of America or El Corte Inglés and try your hand at cooking some favorites from home. Whichever route you go, some comfort food will certainly make you feel better. (See our previous posts on American restaurants and stores that sell American products for more).
Speak the King’s English
Once in Madrid, you’ll definitely be focusing one hundred percent on improving your Spanish. After all, that’s one of, if not the main reason for coming. Don’t forget, though, that although speaking Spanish is necessary and ideal for improving your language skills, speaking your native language from time to time is good for the soul. There are plenty of folks willing to speak English, both locals and other foreigners alike. Upon talking to people, however, you’ll soon realize that their English is not always the same as yours. Although there are many Americans living in Madrid, the English spoken in the city is obviously very heavily influenced by Britain and many believe ‘the Queen’s English’ to be somehow superior. What such people are not aware of is that the Queen isn’t the only royalty in the English-speaking world — let’s not forget about ‘the King’, whose Southern draw was just as regal. Whatever variety of English you speak, don’t be afraid to express yourself or embarrassed about your accent. And more importantly, find someone who understands all the expressions and slang you use — that way you’ll truly be speaking your own language just like you did back home.
Live the Moment
As we’ve mentioned, it’s the most normal thing in the world to feel homesick while overseas. Don’t forget, however, to enjoy yourself while you’re in Madrid: meet new people, take in the sights, travel, go out in the evening, and so on. After all, Spain is different and has a lot to offer you while you’re here. Be sure to live the moment and enjoy the day to day, which is perhaps the best remedy for missing home.