It happens to all of us; at some point during our stay in China we get homesick and it can be debilitating. However, there are some practical ways to deal with homesickness, or at least a lot of ways to keep us busy until the feeling passes!
Photo: Kate Hiscock
1) Watch TV that reminds you of home
If you have fast enough internet, Netflix is your best option. There are so many great things to watch on here, for every genre. There is also Baidu Shipin (百度视频), which is an app you can download for your tablet or smart phone. The app is basically a free version of Netflix, and there are a whole bunch of TV shows to choose from. However, a few foreign TV series were recently removed off the app, and others. The majority of good TV, both Chinese and foreign, is available though, and the best thing is that it barely costs anything. Alternatively, find out whether your home country's news can be streamed online, because that will help you feel closer to home. Some of the big international channels also stream the news, for example AlJazeera has a good 24/7 live stream.
Other than that, most cities have DVD shops that will have a good collection of regularly updated foreign films and new releases. If not this, iTunes will have your country's newest releases – indulge in a film!
2) Food – Get a home cooked meal
Sometimes a home cooked meal is therapeutic. Treat yourself and go to a nice foreign supermarket, buying the ingredients that make your favorite home cooked meal. If you are feeling more adventurous and keen to keep busy, try cooking a local meal! Maybe start with one of these simple recipes that we have tried and tested. Or alternatively, check your local listings to find a proper foreign restaurant, and go out for a nice dinner.
As a third option, if you are not willing to leave the house, China has a lot of great delivery services that do not cost a bomb – one of the perks of living here. Here is a guide to these online delivery services.
3) Hang out with an old friend
Sometimes talking about it with a friend is the best way to deal with homesickness – especially in the case of China, when family or friends at home may not be in the same time zone. Take a friend somewhere random or new, like a museum or an art exhibition that you’ve never heard of before, or just chill in a café.
Alternatively, write an email to a friend at home, and try to convince them to come visit you in China by relaying all the weird things that happen in China.
4) Make a new local friend
A big cause of homesickness can be missing your friends at home. At the same time, one of the perks of living abroad, is making friends with different people. There is a simple way to start fixing this: get out there and make some Chinese friends! Find a language exchange near you, a sports club, or get a new hobby. Other great ways to make a local friend is to hang out in a café at a big university near you, as there are often students studying English waiting to make a foreign friend, or find a language partner. Chatting with them will also help you understand the Chinese culture more, and perhaps make you feel less like an outsider. Although making and keeping a Chinese friend can be difficult, it is definitely not impossible.
This is also an amazing way to learn Chinese, or to improve those language skills that you have been having trouble with. Practicing with new friends will not only help you feel less isolated, but it will also help you get over those humps with learning Chinese, and is another aid. And, every minute you spend on Chinese will keep you distracted and feeling less homesick.
Or, you can even get on one of these Chinese dating apps. Perhaps dating someone here, or even making friends through the app is exactly what you need, and it can be fun too. Who knows, maybe you’ll even find the love of your life on there! I found that many people were readily willing to chat, and it was just another way for me to interact more with Chinese people who eventually became good friends.
Life in large Chinese cities is often fast paced, and it can be easy to get ahead of yourself. To wind down, go to a park. All Chinese cities have great parks, and if the weather is good a walk in the park may do you a whole lot of good. If you are more athletic, go for a jog. This, again, can be a great way to run into some new people, practice your Chinese with the dancing ayi’s, who may not hear you through the new headphones that they were recently given, or run into some adorable dogs.
And just remember how much you are taking away from this experience; it will all be worth it in the end. Living here may be the start of the rest of your life, or it may be a once in a lifetime experience.
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Keywords: Homesickness in China combat homesickness
If you can get homesick it simply means you are not ready for China. This country has so much to offer and I don't see how one can get bored or homesick. If things start getting to you, move! Go to another city, get a new experience. Every city is different. That's the beauty of China (and the ugly as well).
I think the best way to combat home sickness is just to keep busy. I never felt home sick the first year and a half or so that I spent in China, because I was simply too busy having fun, drinking and making friends. It was after a while, when things settled down and I started having a lot of time to myself, that I felt shit for a while. The best thing to do would be to just join a Chinese Course, look for a job, or get into a relationship. All these things help to keep you busy, while having their own additional benefits, like improving your language skills or earning some extra money. Also, I think watching movies/eating thongs from home might just make things worse for some, though I guess it could help for others.
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