Homesickness or just culture shock?

Many people often mistake culture shock for homesickness and in the worst case scenario they may even cut short the trip of a lifetime to rush back home to the people they love.

I have made the mistake myself 10 years ago at the age of 18 I embarked on my first round the world trip. I was going alone and decided on Hong Kong for my first destination.

Upon arrival I found everything big scary and daunting, I was seriously jet lagged, couldn’t sleep in the hostel I was staying at and above all it was much colder than I expected and I didn’t have the right clothes.

I began to feel upset for no reason at all and attributed this to homesickness. Luckily I met some cool people pretty quickly and I completely forgot about the feelings I was having. I then took a step back and thought perhaps I actually wasn’t home sick at all?

I realised I wasn’t actually missing home or the people there, I was actually missing familiarity.

Everything in Hong Kong was so different the smell, the people, the language, the writing, the buildings, the money and the food. I couldn’t even find comfort in a McDonalds as the menu there features birds nest soup and The Shogun Burger, a port patty with teriyaki sauce and cabbage.

There is a very thin line between homesickness and culture shock.

With culture shock the quicker you try to embrace what is going on around you the easier it becomes. I still experience culture shock all the time but I actually recognise it nowadays and get on with it. Although it can wear you down in certain places especially if you are hot, sweaty, tired and are being hassled when all you really want is a hot power shower and a comfy bed.

Homesickness is a different problem altogether and can be much harder to solve but next time you get that feeling take a step back and try to determine whether you are missing home or are actually just a bit down because everything around you is so alien.

I have of course become homesick too what I find works best to overcome this is throw myself into some sort of adventure. So go scuba diving, bungy jumping, white water rafting, jungle trekking, mountain climbing or anything else that gets the heart and adrenaline pumping. You will soon forget about the homesickness but just make sure you have good backpacker travel insurance before you go throwing yourself out of an aeroplane or something!


2 thoughts on “Homesickness or just culture shock?”

  1. Many good points you raise in your post
    Homesickness and leaving freinds to move overseas is comonly a big problem
    You need to keep active and slowly intergrate in to the new community
    It can take some time but worth it at the end
    I have lived in Finland 24 years as a British expatriate and found that working helped me to make new Finnish freinds
    No one said it is easy,but hey if it was easy life would become boring
    Take the challenge and revel in your sucesses

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