You learn a lot about yourself after moving to a foreign country and rebuilding your life from scratch. At least, I did. One thing I discovered is the importance of creating a place that feels like home wherever I go. As cheesy as it sounds, I have to confirm the popular saying that “home is where the heart is”. Somehow, even thousands of miles away from my childhood home in Canada, I managed to feel at home and at peace. Here’s how.
- I Follow The Same Daily Routine I Developed In Canada
In Canada, I had a strict skincare regimen and made sure to exercise around the same time everyday, as well as to eat healthy meals on a regular basis. Most of my daily activities were planned out in advance. When I packed for the move, I made sure to stuff my suitcases with my favorite products, books, scents, and photo albums. Now, when I’m feeling a little homesick, I pull out my favorite Hudson’s Bay perfume (or the crochet blanket my sister made me last Christmas) and allow myself to be whisked back into the Western prairies of Alberta.
- I Journal On A Daily Basis To Check In On My Feelings
I’ve found that making sure I set aside time to journal regularly or to re-read my favorite books and re-watch my favorite shows, allows me to create a sense of stability and regularity in my everyday life. I recently relocated to a different part of my host city and being able to journal about all the stresses of the move, provided a tool for me to keep track of my emotions and catch any unhealthy and negative patterns of thinking. For one, I tend to catastrophize. While planning the move, I couldn’t help but worry over whether I’d lose all the friendships I’d built in my previous residence, or whether I’d be isolated in the new part of town. Journaling helped me realize that friendships are a two-way street and that if my friendships were meant to last–they would.
- I Maintain Contact With My Canadian Friends & Family
While I may be immersed physically in Spain, I’m still fully engaged in Canadian culture and remaining in touch with my Canadian friends. I’m so grateful to be regularly reminded that I have amazing friends and family in Canada, who are rooting for me. No matter what happens in Spain, or how much time I spend away, it’s so wonderful to acknowledge the people whose support is unconditional.
- I Dedicate Regular Time To Hobbies That Ground Me
Study abroad is a time for change, yes. However, not everything has to change. If I’ve learned anything during my outbound exchange, it’s that some things don’t change–and boy, am I grateful for this fact. After a full day of school and an afternoon of gallivanting across Madrid with my friends, I’m grateful to turn on Netflix and re-watch my favorite feel-good series, or to pull out my knitting and make some progress on the sweater I’m making.
Initially, after moving abroad to Spain, I felt that my life was spinning out of control. All the constants of my day-to-day life had changed. Thankfully, I discovered that grounding myself in a familiar routine and spending time and making time to do the same things I did in Canada, was an awesome way to make my host country feel like home.