Dealing with homesickness

Moving home will always be an exciting and stressful experience, and moving abroad takes even more time and a great deal of planning.

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When the day comes that you finally leave the UK to live in France, you will likely feel a mixture of excitement, anticipation and perhaps just a little fear at starting a new life in a different country. Even though France is our nearest neighbour, it is still completely different country, and you will need time to adjust. Here are my top 8 tips to help deal with homesickness:
 

  • The key to a successful move lies in early and thorough preparation. Settling in to life in France will undoubtedly take some time, and it is wise to go with the attitude that things may be difficult and certainly unfamiliar to start with. Understanding that any feelings of homesickness and possibly feeling out of your depth at the beginning will mean that the process of settling in will become easier.
     
  • Don’t forget that it will take you a little time to adjust to a move abroad. France is a much larger country than the UK, and has long played host to British people seeking a better life - with large open spaces, bigger and cheaper houses, spectacular scenery and a generally laid-back lifestyle, certainly in rural parts. Take advantage of your “foreignness” as soon as you arrive: you will be of interest to your French neighbours and are likely to find that many people will go out of their way to help you acclimatise.
     
  • Before you set off for France, find out as much as you can about the community you will be living in. Prior knowledge of the town or village’s offering in terms of community activities will help you speed up the process of feeling at home.
     
  • Join in with local activities. If you have an interest such as singing in a choir, going to church, joining a gym, or playing sports, find out how you can join in something similar where you are moving to. By doing so, you are bound to meet people with whom you have something in common and your network of friends will start to develop.
     
  • If you have children, it is a good idea to plan the timing of your move to France to coincide with the new school term. Your children are likely to make friends quicker, and simply by chatting at the school gate or attending your child’s school activities, you will find that you make friends and your social life will begin.
     
  • Invite your neighbours over when you move in, even if it’s only for a drink. French people are by and large sociable and will want to help you settle in. People love to give advice and many will want to practise their English on you!
     
  • There is a large expat community in France in most cities and many of the smaller ones. Us Brits do tend to get around these days! You can then ask your fellow British people about their own experiences, and compare notes. The mere fact of discussing your own situation with them will immediately create a bond.
     
  • The settling in process may take many months and there will be days when the differences in your new lifestyle will make you yearn for your home country. The trick to making progress settling in is to accept that this is normal and to embrace the differences, thus allowing you to make the most of all that France has to offer you in your new life there.

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