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10 Tips for How to Deal With Homesickness in Sydney as an Expat

Wondering how to deal with homesickness in Sydney? I’m sure we’ve all been there. No matter how long I’ve been living as a British expat in Australia, homesickness still strikes from time to time.

The Christmas season can be especially difficult, as memories of cozy gatherings and carefree summer days back home fill me with longing. Even after years abroad, December elicits pangs for walking the streets of London and soaking up the festive atmosphere. And during Australian winters, I yearn for those endless English summer days that felt like they would never end.

If you’re feeling a little guilty for leaving loved ones, check our popular podcast episode with Amy about How We Deal With Expat Guilt.


Questioning your move to Australia

<em>Missing an English pub at Christmas time is a given<em>

In these moments of homesickness, doubts inevitably creep in: What am I doing here? Why did I move across the world? Is this really the right choice? The negative feelings can affect your physical and mental health if you don’t take the time for self-care.

For me, the homesick feeling never completely goes away even after you grow to love your new environment.

A video chat only seems to make it worse at times, highlighting the distance and guilt of being so far from loved ones. More than anything, it’s the little things I miss – popping around for tea or having the lifelong emotional support system from friends and family.

While homesickness may always be a part of the expat experience, there are ways to cope with the hard days and embrace the new Country you’ve made home. With effort and an open heart, you can find joy and belonging even on the opposite side of the world.

Here’s some of my thoughts about how I deal with homesickness in Australia and how I get over it for anyone else who’s also in the same boat.


1. Note Your Triggers for Homesickness

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The first step to deal with homesickness is to understand what causes it. As an expat, there are many things that can remind you of what you are missing out on. Preparing yourself for these can help you put in your support system and self care exercises proactively.

Special Occasions

Major holidays like Christmas or birthdays can amplify homesickness, making you miss traditions and gatherings with family and friends back home. Weddings, births, or other milestones in loved ones’ lives can also trigger nostalgia if you can’t be there in person.

Sense of Humour

Getting humour and inside jokes is an important part of connection. The British and Australian senses of humour have differences that you may not realise at first. Homesickness can set in when you miss that feeling of effortlessly shared comedy with your hometown social circle.

Takeaway Restaurants

Cravings for foods from back home can cause nostalgic longing. Missing the tastes you grew up with like the perfect fish and chips or curry sauce, and knowing just where to get them, leaves a hole. Australian takeout just doesn’t satisfy the same cravings.

Pubs

Aussie “Hotels” are just not the same. They don’t have the same vibe, home comforts or casual British drinking culture. Trying to get that same evening or Saturday afternoon feeling from a hotel can trigger feelings of homesickness.

Dealing With the Weather

For Brits in hot Australian climates like Queensland, the lack of seasons and novelty of warm winters can be hard to adjust to. You may pine for crisp autumn days, snowy winter mornings, and the bloom of spring – familiar cycles that help mark the passage of time.


2. Stay Grounded With The Facts On Your Home Country

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When you feel homesick, you have a tendency to focus only on the warm and fuzzy memories. It is so important to stay grounded and remind yourself of the full picture when missing home.

I was really lucky to be able to take those rose tinted glasses off when we moved back to England and realised that not everything was as seamless as I remembered it to be. More than anything, I realised I had changed a lot since I moved and there were many reasons why we moved back to Australia.

Recalling the realities of life back home doesn’t make the feelings of homesickness completely disappear, but it does help. Try being honest with yourself and journal:

  1. Your financial situation in your home country vs Australia
  2. Your mundane days – Laundry and food shop days existed there too
  3. The stresses of daily life
  4. How often you hung out with family and friends – It was less than you actually miss them
  5. Access to services or transport – London train system headaches anyone?
  6. Personal growth opportunities – Moving overseas offers an incredible amount of growth, did your home life offer this?

I’ve also written about what it’s really like when you become an expat in Australia so hopefully it may help people understand the reality of what it will be like before making the leap over here. There’s much more to being an expat than you’ll ever know until you do it.


3. Prepare Fun Outings When it’s Summer in England

So like I mentioned before, the only other consistent time I get homesick in Australia is during the UK Summertime.

I scroll through my Instagram feed and see everyone in lovely dresses, going to festivals and of course enjoying the late Summer light. And there’s us freezing cold indoors (let’s face it, it’s colder inside than out in Australia during Winter right?) wishing we were back home.

I find the only way to get through this time is to literally compare the weather on my phone and remind myself it’s technically the same temperature in English Summer as it is in Aussie Winter.

Another great thing to do is to fill your winter days with visits to European restaurants or getaways. Some favourites on our list in Sydney:

  1. Ikari Greek Restaurant Bondi – if your friends are enjoying a European summer then fill your belly on authentic Greek food to combat homesickness.
  2. Cafe Nino Woollahra – Get a dose of those Italian vibes with a very happy pasta belly.
  3. Tuga Pastries Clovelly – I can’t even tell you how incredible these guys are, you just have to go and transport yourself to a little Portuguese pastry shop.

4. Accept That You May Not Have The Same Bonds

I’ve learnt to go back to England more frequently now.

To be honest, like I said in this post – my school friend who lives in Sydney told me recently, there’s nothing like old friends. Whilst she’s completely right, I’ve found there’s no point in comparing people from back home to my new life.

I always miss my friends loads. I miss having a laugh and probably more than anything, I know I can be completely myself around them. There is a deep bond in truly understanding a friend’s place of birth, culture and upbringing and it can be hard to create that with new friends.

While there will always be a bit of a lost in translation with Aussies for me (in terms of them getting my personality), it’s something I’ve learnt to accept with my life here. Welcoming this reality opens your mind to different kinds of people, cultures and friendships you may otherwise overlook when searching for your home friendships.

It is completely refreshing and freeing to open yourself up to new bonds. After all, why live across the world if you are just going to recreate the same life with the same people?

That doesn’t mean your old bonds need to fall by the wayside. You can welcome new friends and keep your old friends close. Stay connected through regular phone calls, writing letters or sending regular photos of your lives.


5. Make Friends Gradually

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Once you’ve accepted that you may not have the same bonds, it is also wise to be patient with creating new connections.

Making friends can be especially difficult when you move to Australia as many people stay here with their same school and college friends. It can be hard to create a bond when many people are already comfortable with the friends they have. If you rush into creating a huge friendship group, you can end up feeling disappointed if they are not your people.

It is a big transition to move across the world so don’t add a friendship group to your list of pressures. Big cities can take a while to crack, I even wrote an article on How to make friends in Sydney.

Top tips include:

  • Saying yes more than you say no – get out of that comfort zone!
  • Go for after work drinks
  • Join facebook groups and meetups

6. Find All The English Food

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There is nothing more comforting that familiar foods when you’re in a new environment. Don’t put pressure on yourself every day to try the local culture cuisine, sometimes you just need a good old British dinner when you feel homesick.

There is plenty of British foods I miss like M&S (obvs) or the massive variety of supermarkets, and of course Pret, Eat and obviously English chocolate.

I find the best way to combat it is to raid the International aisles at Coles and Aldi. Although chocolate won’t ever taste the same, we have to make the best we can.

Also, the Reject shop has a deal with Tesco and will periodically import some home supermarket goodies! Check out our list of Where to buy British food in Sydney, including British Bacon, black pudding and pork pies!

The good thing is, when you go back to visit, you’ll find the smallest things such a novelty. Even seeing English money again for the first time in ages becomes a novelty (well it always does for me!).


7. Hit Up All The British Pubs

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I think every British expat in Australia misses a decent pub. Understandably an Aussie pub will never compare because it won’t have the character or heritage of a British pub. I think one of the things I miss most is a decent beer garden or better yet, being able to stand outside of the pub. I miss this the most.

But you can stand outside of The Lord Dudley in Sydney. If you’ve not been yet, get yourself over to there now because it’s the best British pub in Sydney.

We also love The Duke Of Clarence which was originally a pub in England. They literally shipped it over to Australia and rebuilt it in Sydney. Doesn’t get much better right? Squint and you could be home, a good cure for feeling homesick in Australia.

Also, The Oaks in Neutral Bay is a good substitute for a pub with a decent beer garden. It is also covered in fairy lights and feels like Christmas, no matter what time of year you’re there.

Check out our full list of British Pubs in Sydney and get your fill of carpets, fireplaces and ale!


8. If You Want To Go Home, Don’t Feel Bad About It

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I think a huge thing to remember is if you feel like life in Australia hasn’t matched up to what you thought it was going to be, don’t feel like you’re a failure for wanting to leave.

Maybe you had the big send off and you thought that you were going to live in Australia for the rest of your life. Now you’re feeling like a prized idiot for wanting to go home and wonder what others might think?

To be honest, there’s not many people out there who actually have the balls to do what you’ve done. To make a decision to move your life is huge and you need to feel proud of the fact that you gave it a go. Because if you didn’t give it a go, you’d be sat back home always wondering what life would have been like in Australia.

I remember when we had planned to move to Vietnam after a year long travelling trip around the world. We knew as soon as we landed in Ho Chi Minh that it was a big mistake. We lasted a week before we came back to Australia. I’m glad we didn’t waste anymore time there because not long after we came back to Australia, this website was born.

Only you know what’s the best decision for you and hopefully we can help you know that you’re not alone with feeling homesick.


9. Try to remember why you moved to Australia

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When you’re having bouts of feeling homesick in Australia, try to remember why you moved here in the first place. Maybe you moved to be with a loved one, maybe it was because you were sick of the English weather, or maybe you wanted a better life for your kids. Whatever it is, know that there was a reason why you moved your life to Australia.

Whatever the pull was, it is easy to slip into feelings of homesickness in your new environment. Try to put your physical and mental health first by journalling what it is you’re actually missing and how you can make things better.

I can only say from experience that because I was able to move back to England for six months last year, but it made me totally realise how much I had changed and that my life is so much better in Australia. To have the space, nature, weather and beach on hand is worth so much more to me than ever.

I’ll definitely miss a lot of things about England but I know I can get a fix when I go back to visit which definitely helps when feeling homesick in Australia. If you’re not as lucky to go back for visits, then I hope you manage to find some peace with feeling homesick.


10. Revamp your self care routine

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Self care is important in your every day life, but especially important when you move to a new city. If you do not prioritise your self care in your new surroundings, it can make your homesickness worse. Spending time alone and feeling low can cause low self confidence, negative feelings and potentially impact mental health issues.

A new environment provides a refreshing opportunity to cleanse your mind and combat feelings at your own pace. It is perfectly normal to have a good cry when feeling sad, but try to be proactive, even for a few hours at a time. Look at the amazing places Australia can offer for your self care routine, consider:

  • Beach yoga – Enjoy the sun on your face as you connect to your breath. When can you do that in England?
  • Coffee shop hopping – I can’t tell you enough times how good the coffee is here! Challenge yourself to try a new coffee shop in Sydney every week and you will start to see the positives in your new life.
  • Coastal walk – The coast is one of the reasons you moved to Australia, right? Getting some fresh air with one of the many beautiful coastal walks may be what you need to release any homesickness symptoms.
  • Join a book club – Reading with company is so relaxing for the soul. Feel connected with people with similar interests without the pressure of drinking, being popular or coming up with topics to talk about.
  • Try a meditation retreat – Incredibly popular in Australia and great to connect back with your body and mind to feel strong again. Check out my review of a meditation retreat in Sydney.
  • Get enough sleep – It can be easy to stay awake through the night making phone calls to the UK but remember to get enough sleep so you can be fully present in your new life.

Have you read our expat guides yet?

Check out our expat interviews and you might find some of them reassuring to know you’re not alone! Here’s a few to get started:

More expat guides to check out!


How To Deal With Being Homesick In Australia

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