Missing home this holiday weekend? Three tips from one expat to another

Raina DeBrouwer

Thanksgiving – a warm, cozy holiday where you catch up with family, eat (too much) delicious food, and reflect on what you’re thankful for. The smell of turkey fills your home as colourful leaves fall outside. In the distance, the crackle of a fire can be heard.

Well, this is the scene for those who can get home for Thanksgiving. For the rest of us? Thanksgiving can be a lonely and challenging time. School has ramped up, stress is mounting, and your friends are all leaving you for a boundless supply of family time, pumpkin pie, and gravy.

Luckily for you, 2017 marks my third consecutive year of missing – both physically and emotionally – my family’s Thanksgiving celebrations. As a result, I’ve managed to learn some things about avoiding the inevitable creep of homesickness and FOMO during the holidays. The following are my three best tips.

1. Limit contact with home. This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s the best suggestion I can offer to anyone who’s missing home. Should you FaceTime your family for a quick chat at Thanksgiving dinner to say hello? Sure. Should you spend your weekend in your apartment calling friends, scrolling through Instagram, and wishing you were elsewhere? No. As good as it may feel to see a familiar face in the short term, I promise it will backfire in the form of agonizing homesickness in the long term.

2. Make a plan. Being lonely is hard enough, being lonely and bored? A recipe for disaster. Resist the temptation to treat this weekend like any other – it’s a special one and should be treated as such! Fill your calendar with fun activities to make this holiday the enjoyable and relaxing one it should be. Looking for things to do? Check out this awesome list of Thanksgiving weekend activities in Halifax.

3. Find your tribe. While it might feel like it, you’re definitely not the only one stuck on the peninsula during the holidays. Find fellow expats and build your own traditions! There are so many students who dread holidays because it signifies a time of loneliness. Connect with peers you know to be from out-of-province or find new people on sites like meetup.com. Just because you can’t make it to your family’s turkey dinner, doesn’t mean you can’t have your own. Reach out to friends and start cooking!

While these tips may seem simple enough to enact, I know firsthand how tempting it can be to wallow. Resist the urge and make your weekend a special one! The times that you’re struggling emotionally are the times that you need to treat yourself best. Start that process now by crafting a weekend plan that excites and fulfills you.

Happy Thanksgiving from this Halifax transplant to all of you!