For most of us, living overseas is an amazing experience. There are new foods to try, new places to visit, new festivals to enjoy. But what do you do when you pine for all things American or you don’t like living overseas and you miss the good ole U. S. of A.?
Here are five things to help you with that homesickness.
1. VISIT YOUR LOCAL AMERICAN INSTALLATION
The most obvious thing to do is to go to the Exchange, the commissary and the food court. There is nothing more red, white, and blue then fast food. As you wander through the Exchange, do a shelf check. This is when you see what new items have arrived since your last visit. If it’s lunch time, grab some greasy American fare to sate that desire. Follow that up with a trip to the commissary to stock up on foods you love. Remember that both the Exchange and the commissary can order items for you. Don’t forget the thrill of combining coupons at the Exchange or the rush of using expired coupons when buying your groceries.
If that’s not enough, there are more traditional things to do. Take in a movie at the theater. Go bowling. You can get your fix at any of these locations.
2. WATCH AMERICAN TV
This is probably one area where I succumbed to American ways. I couldn’t miss my shows! There are a few ways to curb your appetite here. Many people I’ve spoken with use online streaming apps. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon are popular choices. These options are great if you know which shows you want to keep up with.
An AFN box from Exchange with dish is another popular choice. More so now that they’ve gone to HD. Apple TV is the third most popular option.
Slingbox is a device that allows you to hook up to your stateside cable. You need someone to allow you access their cable and you need to set up the box at their U.S. location. Once this is done, you have the ability to watch any channel their cable company package has. This is great if you know someone who has all the premium channels!
The last option is using a VPN service but I’ve found that having a VPN with a flash router is the best. Using a VPN allows you to enter a website on your search bar and set your location to anywhere in the world. In this case, you’d want to pick a location in the U.S. This is the most secure way and many people combine this with their streaming apps.
As with all of these choices, do your research and decide what is best.
3. ORDER STUFF ONLINE
Let’s face it, retail therapy is a thing! I found myself buying items that weren’t at the Commissary. Take Method cleaners. These cleaners smelled so wonderful and made me happy but I missed having them. Thank goodness for retailers and e-trailers who ship overseas. The one caveat I have is to make sure they ship to APOs/FPOs/DPOs. If they don’t, ask. Some small businesses don’t post the information, but they will ship. I found Alpaca socks that I wanted to buy for Christmas one year. Many homes overseas are tiled and the floors are COLD. There was a farm in New York that carried the socks for a great price. I emailed to ask about them shipping overseas and he was happy to do it. He just needed directions on how to label the package. Not only that, but he sent the order before my check got to him AND he discounted the shipping!
4. GO HOME
I know this seems easier said than done but it is possible. You can purchase a ticket to fly back on a commercial airline or you can go Space-A. While Space-A is cheaper, it comes with uncertainty and planning. There are multiple articles on how to navigate the system but step one is to hop on Facebook and “like” all the nearby passenger terminals. This will allow you to see what flights are available.
5. MAINTAIN FRIENDSHIPS
This last tip will help you to keep your sanity. Whether it’s an in-person relationship or online, you need human contact and conversation. Ideally, you find friends at your location but any time you can find someone to complain to, rejoice with or talk to, it’s a good thing.
While I think that living overseas is an amazing experience, not everyone agrees with me. What we need to remember is that, like Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home.” We all need to be reminded that our home is still there and we can keep it with us always, even when we can’t set foot on our native soil.