Advice for living away from home

Living away from your home country is not easy at first. Some people thrive, some people dive (badly). You don’t want to be one of those who have a terrible time and go home broken. To avoid such a scenario is not difficult (I won’t say easy). So, here are 5 things to consider following when living away from home.

1. Skype (or similar)

It might seem strange to include this on such a list, but communication with people back home is important. Skype is on this list not just for you, but also for your parents and siblings. Avoid talking about the negative stuff when you talk with them, even if it is hard, but focus on the little highlights. However, using Skype can be hard for older people who are not computer savvy. For them to be confident and independent with it, you cannot install it onto their computer, they need to do it themselves. You can stand behind them and instruct them step-by-step, but resist the urge to touch that mouse. They need to invest in the time and energy to work out how to get it, install it, and run it. Knowing something of how to install and get it to work by themselves, means that they have better computer skills, and can do more without you around at home to help. Technology moves on, and Skype will eventually be supplanted by something else. At least they will have the basic skills to install and run that. They will have problems, and you can help them with the Myriad of YouTube videos out there.

2. Cook for yourself

Really, this makes a huge difference. Doing “self-care” improves your mental and physical health. Preparing food with fresh ingredients means that you’re not putting chemicals like preservatives and artificial flavours into your body. Taking the time to make something, means that you are guaranteeing that you have control of your nutritional intake. Be sure to always include fruit and vegetables, carbohydrates, and protein. Spending time doing these things is a ritual, which has its own psychological benefits.

Vegetable Food Cooked on Frying Pan, CC Andrew Weber (n.d)

Vegetable Food Cooked on Frying Pan, CC Andrew Weber (n.d)

3. Save money

This is especially important for young teachers and students living away from home for the first time. I’ve seen young teachers fall into serious depression, basically because they are stuck in a bad work situation, and don’t have the financial means to get out, and they drink their money away. Some times you might have a bad work situation, or a family emergency, or something. You need to have enough money for a ticket back home, and enough to survive until your next pay check (assume two months). Other people consider a family or personal emergency that they need to pay for. Have a safety net to bail yourself out. I heard an interview with a young homeless lady in London, who said that most people, even the high street bankers prior to the 2008 economic meltdown, are only one or two paychecks from homelessness. Don’t be that person.

4. Make friends

It seems like an obvious thing to do, but some people just don’t. You need at least two groups of friends. You need expat friends and local friends. It’s great to explore a new city or a new country with other people like yourself. However, it’s also great to get inside-knowledge from the locals. Party with both groups, go places with both groups, and enjoy life with both groups. You will have a more fulfilling time.

Black Coffee Breakfast, CC by Burst (n.d) https://www.pexels.com/photo/adult-beverage-black-coffee-breakfast-374592/

Black Coffee Breakfast, CC by Burst (n.d) https://www.pexels.com/photo/adult-beverage-black-coffee-breakfast-374592/

5. Have a hobby

Most people would not think of putting such an item on a list like this, but it is equally important. When you are not working or studying, you need something to do. You need something to occupy your mind. TV and video games cannot be included. I’ve seen people use video games to fill their free time. They still suffered depression, homesickness, and guilt at the lost time spent not exploring the city or country. Use your time to read, develop your painting, poetry, photographic, or other skills. Study more about education. Be productive. Have something to show for when you can’t get out on those rainy days. I met someone who was producing a blog to document all the castles in Japan. He has a goal, and an excuse to get out. There was also a final product to show; and a sense of pride for his efforts.

Painting, CC by Jadson Thomas (n.d)

Painting, CC by Jadson Thomas (n.d)

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