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  • Writer's pictureMariska Venter

How to Feel at Home in a Foreign Country

Updated: Mar 26, 2020

For everyone who traveled abroad alone for a long time knows that homesick feeling is a real thing, it’s also something that you would rather avoid because you don’t want your mood to cause you not to enjoy your time away.

When you have to stay in a foreign country for longer than a week most people will start to miss home, the first week everything is new with so much to see and explore. You don’t tend to miss home yet, but once that is over and everyone gets into their normal everyday routine, that’s when the homesick feeling arrives.

It’s important to know that I am writing this not from a tourist perspective but from the perspective of a tennis player who stays in foreign countries for weeks on end with the main focus on training and competing in tournaments.

I have found the next few steps to help me feel the most at home in a foreign country.


As we all know music is one of the most powerful tools when it comes to our mood. Whenever you are driving in a car or using public transport listen to the music you would normally listen to when you are back home. You can even listen to your local radio stations wherever you are. I tend to play Afrikaans music and hearing it in the car makes me feel like I never left South Africa, and it always puts me in a good mood.


Now this one is a little tricky depending on where you are in the world, but I found that when I do my grocery shopping I tried to find and buy the food that I would usually buy back home and then create the same meals. This will provide yet another feeling of familiarity.

Something Tangible

This refers to anything you can take along or buy during your stay that you can use or put in your room that will make you feel like it’s your own. Whether you are staying at a hotel, airbnb or someone’s house you will always have a feeling that it’s not your own place. To make it feel more like home you can try to add your personal touch. You can always try to put up pictures of family and friends, bring your favourite pillow or light some candles, anything that will remind you of home, put it in your room. I love comfy fluffy blankets so I buy my own and use it in my room and it automatically makes me feel at home.

Routine with a twist

I am a type of person who strive in routine, but its also been proved by psychologist that when people stick to their normal everyday routine that it helps with adapting and also gives you a sense of familiarity. So during the week try not to do too many things out of the ordinary and then during the weekend you should of course wake up the tourist inside you and go out and explore and learn more of the country you are in. Doing this will ensure that you are still in your everyday routine like when you are back home but it will add a twist and make sure that things still stay exciting and fun after all you are in a foreign country it will be a crime not to explore it some way or another.

Your inner circle

This is probably the most important step. In this step, you have to make sure you surround yourself with people who really do care for you. The people who are going to be around you are going to be the biggest influence on your mood while you are abroad. You left your family and friends and your support system back home and let’s be honest, that’s why most of us get homesick. We miss our people. And yes, you will never be able to get what you have back home but you can make sure you still have positive loving caring people around you who will be there when you need them and also to have fun with. Once you find that group of people who you can trust and have fun with, missing home is not so bad anymore.

My home away from home is Belgium

I’ve been going to Belgium for the past 5 years now and every year I tend to spend more and more time there. During my stay, I have noticed all the little things that help me feel more at home. After 5 years, I can tell you that these 5 steps are what work the best for me.

Strangers became friends and soon feel like family. Trust me, when you spend a long time in a foreign country you need people around who care for you. In Belgium I’ve had some of my worst and best memories and through all of that, I had people surrounding me with love and care. Now, when I leave Belgium it’s such a strange feeling because I’m leaving home to go home so my heart does not know what to do with all the feelings I’m feeling. But one thing is for sure, that I am so grateful and honoured to be able to say I have a home away from home.

- Keep shining

Belgium 2018

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