Dealing with homesickness in the Philippines

Hello everyone,

Being an expat in the Philippines can turn out to be a wonderful human, social or professional adventure... with potential moments of nostalgia and homesickness along the way.

What are your personal tips to prevent homesickness?

How do you deal with such feelings?

Are there shops or stores offering products from your home country in the Philippines? Or maybe venues with music and ambiance from your homeland?

Thanks for sharing your experience,

Priscilla … -home.html

They don't tell you when you leave the homeland what you'll actually miss. You're told what you'll supposedly gain – a better life, more freedom, and the ability to buy nice things. Wide open spaces, the reliability of service, the openness of city streets.
Cleaner bathrooms, the abundance of toilet paper, and reliable flushing. Unlimited ketchup and mustard on your burgers, plus all the fixings. Warehouse club-sized groceries and glutton-portioned meals. A good job, a nice house, and a car in the quiet suburbs.
Nobody tells you that you'll miss the noises of home – the blaring of jeepney horns, the takatak of the cigarette vendors selling Winstons by the stick. They don't tell you that you'll look for the barker yelling out everyday destinations like an international roll call: Bambang, Arranque, Ongpin, Blumentritt. That the language you speak will sound so beautiful once you've stopped speaking it. That you'll seek it out in a crowded train and in your happiness you'll want to give your fellow Filipino your seat.
You're not told that "cold" isn't just Baguio cold, but an impossible, inescapable freeze. That there is no manual on how to dress for winterexcept for seasons of trial and error, learning fabrics like wool, down, cashmere and fleece. That the first time your toes go numb inside your shoes will be the last time you'll take the correct footwear for granted. You're not taught to check the weather in the morning before leaving for the day, but you learn it the first time the temperature drops and you didn't bring a jacket.
You're told about the snow, but not what a magical act of physics it really is. You're told it is beautiful, but not that you have to shovel a truckload of it to get out of your house. Nobody warns you about slipping on ice or getting slush in your shoes. Or how in the deadest and darkest moment of winter, beneath your hats and scarves and layers, you'll miss the hot breeze of the tropics.
No warning

You're not warned that there is no tsokolate (chocolate), taho, or caramelizedplantains bobbing in oil
Chocolate Philippines
on the street. That you'll have to eat green apples instead of green mangoes and never find a breakfast sausage that is both garlicky and sweet. You're caught by surprise when a gourmet restaurant makes a big deal of their pork belly dish – something unimpressive when you've been eating crispy pata (pork hock) since you were a little kid.

Nobody warns you that you'll make enemies frying your tuyo (dried fish) or for heating your lunch of rice and fish. That your everyday meal is considered exotic, and sometimes even gross, next to the blandness of a turkey sandwich.

You won't be briefed that your decent English will not be understood, and that you'll stare at a native speaker trying to decipher the combination of words you know but somehow can't make out from the speed of their speech. You'll stop talking entirely at one point, afraid of blurting out something that comes so naturally like, "Anak ng tokwa!" because it will make no sense no matter how you translate it.

You're told about the wonders of earning a decent wage in a stronger currency. You're not told that your education, experiences, and skills will be diluted, downplayed, and often ignored in a foreign land that doesn't recognize them. The watering down or disregard of your culture will conveniently be called assimilation. "Welcome to America/UK/Italy/Dubai/Singapore/UAE!" you'll be told when you learn something about your new country.

You'll be both happy and sad to fit in, because you'd have lost that edge you came with that made you stand out, so this means you've lost what you carried with you that would make you fit right back in when you finally return to the Philippines.

Nobody warns you about how long it takes in between visits – that you'll be torn between spending money on flights, paying rent, or buying your familymore gifts. Where you drool from friends' photos of lanzones, mangosteen, rambutan, and atis. That you would trade your tray of blackberries and raspberries for a ripe mango picked from your neighbor's backyard.
You'll want to wake up to the stench of fried danggit, longganisa, the acid of spiced vinegar for dipping, and garlic rice that anywhere else would be too early to eat in the morning. You'll stare at your box of cereal and flavorless milk and at that moment you'll wonder if being away is all worth it.

In all your desire to leave the Philippines – the dissatisfaction with the way things are done, the struggle to even make it out – nobody tells you that in your weakest and most defeated moments in another land, you'll long to complain in Tagalog about the EDSA traffic. You'll promise not to mind the inefficient government employees if it means their service comes with a smile and an offer to eat. You'll long to leave your house and see familiar faces with similar body types and skin tones, all of whom would understand when you scream, "Ang init (It's hot)!"

The silence of efficiency
In the silence of efficiency, of cleaner air, orderly conduct, and litter-free streets, you'll be saddened by the impossibility of visiting a childhood friend to talk about a shared history. You'll crave the recognition you got back home, when something as simple as a nod would let you know that you belonged. You'll miss being visited by a tito (uncle) or a tita (aunt), or bumping into a cousin in the mall, or share sisig with friends in your favorite drinking place.
Even after you've made a life for yourself in a foreign country, it doesn't matter how many decades you've lived there. You'll always be asked where you're from. Your answer will always elicit a blank stare from those who have no clue about your roots, your heritage, or your culture. You may try your best to assimilate, to blend in, or even deny your country, but the Filipino inside you will always come out of hiding.

Philippines Chocolate OFW
With the number of overseas Filipinos growing every year, for the most part our countrymen don't leave our country for anything other than financial need. Millions of us find small successes from our meager skills and are able to provide for our families, to take them where we are, or build a life for them that we never could afford if we stayed.
But nobody talks about the silences, the empty rooms, all the new experiences that we have to face and adapt to on our own. We are told about the wonderful things that happen when we make it out of our own country, but never once told how much it will hurt to lose our home. How we seek our culture, our food, and our people wherever we land, even just for a moment so the homeland doesn't seem so out of reach, so that we forget for a minute that everything we love is so far away.

Great article obviously by your wife Zol.

Hopefully she and you have made some Filipino friends in the area and found that little Asian grocery that supplies a few snacks and other items from the Philippines as my wife did while we lived in Tennessee.

My wife also found out that more often than not she was either init or ginaw depending on the season and the fascination with the changing seasons was offset by the extremes in temperatures. 

We ordered some Philippines items on line for awhile from Phi Am food and found them to be friendly and reliable and she would become pretty excited to see the package arrive at the door.

Eventually a large Asian food store opened in the area with quite a good assortment of items, including snacks from the Philippines. We found the store and the surprisingly large Filipino community helped immensely with the home sickness.

We have since retired to the Philippines and my wife is seldom now either init or ginaw and is quite happy being back and once again close to all things Filipino including family and her favorite little snack, choc nut candy, though she did like the turkey deli sandwich from Arbys!

While in the states we tried to share as many experiences together as we could such as traveling, eating out, exploring the beautiful area in which we lived and simply doing things together to build memories to share with each other and family on our return to the Phil.
One of my personal favorite memories is of watching Terry on the riding lawn mower for the first time. For some reason it always makes me smile as it does her when we discuss it.  Memories together.

Best wishes, health and happiness to you all in the states and may you find joy in simply loving one another always.

Things have changed a lot in the past 20 plus years, such as candy and other junk food, which is now widely available, Cadbury, Haribo, Toberlone just to name a handful.
Food I never missed, I am a cook.
Actually I do not miss anything, been back home a bit over a year ago and know what I am talking about.
And if ever I have a bout of homesickness, I read some of the news magazines online and that cures me for a long while.

The only thing I miss is some traditional food from my home country that I cannot find the ingredients here. Otherwise I visit every one or two years and I satisfy my food cravings and see the life there, then I am very happy for being in Philippines.
Certain traditional foods of my country that I used to love, I cannot eat no more, they seem smelly to me or too much.
I am happy here because I live here, meaning I have set my mind, wants and likes to the local available ones. If you live in one place and expect to get certain things from either pay them a fortune or you get unhappy little by little. You cannot move your body to one country and leave your mind to another, that is called misery.

I would much rather be here than in America.  So not much to miss. Life is what you make it were you are at. It is much safer here than in America. On the streets. Much less crime.   It might be the way I was raised.  Till out of high school. No electric, outhouse, pump your own water. I do live modern here. But maybe I fit in a little better than most. Maybe it is because I am the first American they met that could butcher a pig on my own. Have & do party with them, Most Americans won't. Shop more like they shop. So I made good friends here.  I share with them. They share with me.  I can go to there homes they visit mine.  Lots of little things you learn from them Did you know they call Turkey American bird here.  They serve smoked dried fish want to git even? Make up a big batch of tuna & egg salad with magic Whirl with pickle onion all that American stile.  As they say it is more fun in the Philippines & life is what you make it.

Hello. I found a good article online:
How can I make a succes of my stay abroad?
It's here … 9:0-13:257

With the understanding that homesickness can be a real concern for some, I can honestly say that I have not experienced any feelings of homesickness with regard to the material things the U.S. has to offer. With regard to family, being raised in foster families, my wife and her family are now mine.

Having lived in many environments from desert, to mountains to tropical I always found I felt most comfortable near the sea and in a tropical environment so retirement in the Philippines was for me a good choice.

After many discussions about our retirement plans which included what to expect and not to expect in the Philippines such as health care, utilities, travel and all the other issues that should be discussed prior to moving to another country and culture, we decided to retire to the Philippines, so far it was the right choice for us with no looking back.

I have little in my life as far as regrets and find that to be a useless draining negative emotion.  Discussions with expats and my wife with regard to the Philippines was a great help in making our decision. I expected a slower pace, a little chaos in doing business, less than stellar health care in most areas and the insanity called traffic.   

So do I experience homesickness, I guess the answer is No.  The things that I had in the states are here for the most part and those that are not have been replaced by others. I simply adjust and enjoy and if we did not like living here I doubt that we would use social media sites like this and Facebook to bash the Philippines share our personal misery with the world, we would simply leave. 

I know where I've been but it's where I'm going that is exciting and new.  With a wonderful wife, a cozy little home in a beautiful and peaceful place. With good and helpful friends, family and neighbors and our dreams for what is yet to come, we are happy and content.

Don't look back unless it is to see how far you've come.

I am not sure that homesickness could be prevented. I miss my second country, France. I miss the safe-crossing of the streets where the chauffers stop and politely let you cross. I miss the large pavements where you could walk quietly and out of danger from vehicles passing. I miss the large, well maintained roads they have. I miss the four seasons. I miss the French cheeses in particular the pyramid goat cheese, the french wine, the old historical monuments, especial mention to Madame Eiffel Tower, I miss a lot the refine and comfortable french art of living. Unfortunately we donnot find the French cheese here, the horrible Vache qui rit we find in Shopwise is made in Morocco. I miss hearing the beautifdul and pleasing to the ear french language.
I try to fill-up my time spending half of the week in Makati  doing the zumba and the other half in central luzon giving free chacha and yoga lessons.
Luckily my stay here is temporary.

Homesickness is a word and condition that tugs on and or affects so many of us differently. 

Physical distance from loved ones - After visiting or living in 22 countries outside of the USA, I found pictures, letters and care boxes from home were early coping tools.  Fast-forward to a globally connected lifestyle: Skype, Viber etc. fill the need for instant contact with loved ones. 

Current location/conditions triggering homesickness - Driving here in the PI is like driving in Los Angeles traffic with a heavy dash of "organized chaos" added to a pinch of "selectively dialed" road rage.  One must either adjust and dare to drive likewise or learn to take it easy in a place where lawlessness is the law.  I cope with as few drives to Manila as possible and enjoy a relaxed drive on the more open/less cluttered roads in Tagaytay/Silang areas.   

Missing certain weather types or seasons - I felt spoiled being raised in Southern California so my missing the cooler drier nights along the beach have not stopped.  However, being in a warmer climate has reduced the colder winter effect on my body.  So I cope with a mental trade-off that says "Tagaytay" is not a bad trade for the winter months in California.

Longing for selected foods - The ability to find about 60-75% of the food items I would buy at Costco in California has been enabled by SnR here.  For some, this ability to get what we want/like/are use to has turned into a "pseudo-comfort food" run to SnR resulting in a coping solution that can be tasty. 
Missing our local languages, slangs or dialects - There have been times when I miss speaking english with an American.  I have noticed an initial interest to meet/talk to any foreign looking person just to find out where they are from and to see if there is a "same country" or "same US state" connection. As a native English speaker, most of the close friends I have here in the area are either American or British.  I have also noticed that there is a greater comfort/acceptance level from Filipinos that have worked outside of the PI and already adjusted to different cultures and countries.  I am not opposed to locals as close friends but seldom feel a real or like connection (YMMV).   

Venues from homelands -  The venue from home I enjoy the most is my church and university campus where I can worship God with the exact same familiarity and customs as I enjoyed in California and where I have life-long (12+ years) set of experiences on a University campus with great diversity.  There are some expat meetings that take place around a few beers.  However, since I do not drink, there are no real reasons for me to just sit and watch others get drunk.

Since I had many talks with family members prior to moving to the PI, my adjustment or shock levels were not to high.  The many hours of research performed and the detailed preparations made the move better but not perfect.

Mainly the weather keeps me happy, just look into your fridge when you feel a bit low and then  walk into the sunlight, marvelous. The Philippine weather allows me to be more active and not be a hermit for much of the English winter months brbrbr!

En realidad no me siento la nostalgia fuera de casa Nunca

Hi Prescila I suppose I am luckier than most as I was raised in children's Homes for over 7 years So I never really had that bonding that you get if you have never been away from Home before I just don't think about it I keep myself occupied and as I have an international family e.g. I have an Iranian stepsister and a Burmese stepsister its complicated so I'm not going into details, I keep in touch with my eldest Grandaughter as often as I can, most of my close friends have already passed away so there is no natural pull of my old country

This article is about dealing with homesickness " for" the Philippines, not ' from " the Philippines, so why is it here? To give a different perspective?

It is obviously written about life of a Filipino in the USA. And the USA has one major flaw- the vacations are very short. Unless you are a teacher. The rest are lucky to get 2 weeks a year. Everything is also very expensive, and soon you accumulate debt. Then, you are trapped there.

If you have long vacations, then the nostalgia is cured because you only put up with all the headaches of the new country for so long.

You are only as homesick as what your bank account allows you to be.  If you have money and you feel it starts getting to you, get on the plane and visit.

Or you mean poorer expats that do not have money to visit?

Just move to Angeles City where people from around the world live.

The only thing to miss in the USA is much better services. Nothing else, really.

There were things that my husband and I were happy to leave behind in California: the loud and oppressive tenants above our apartment, the possibility of renting for the rest of our lives and working till we can’t anymore. Also for me, I certainly do not miss my admin job with not much room for promotion, the problem of where to get the US$120k+ tuition fee for an MBA at UC Berkeley (Haas), which made all my hard work resulting in getting a 720 GMAT score quite pointless, and for which I was hoping would get me out of that admin hole and be considered for a higher position with a higher salary.

Once in a while, we do have those "I wish . . . " moments, that something from America would be magically transported here, such as when a bus driver cuts in front of us and takes up 2 lanes, "I wish drivers here were more courteous." Or when we can't find a certain ingredient, "I wish there was a Trader Joe's here." Or when a web page takes too long to load, “I wish there was fast cheap internet here.”

As TeeJay said, “Don’t look back unless it is to see how far you’ve come.” Cost of living here is a lot cheaper than in California, that is, if one knows how to budget and live simply. Our biggest reward for moving here: being able to afford raising a second child, our adorable little girl. Truly priceless. Second is being able to afford our own home. These all made the hardships in America, which lead us to moving here, more like a blessing in disguise and made us feel like thanking our upstairs neighbors in SF for making living under them unbearable.

My husband and I do not feel homesick for California. We do not have a longing to go back there. I think, in general, the cure for homesickness is time and an appreciation of the benefits of moving here.

I have lived in the Philippines with my fiancee for nearly four years now but am still finding it hard to adapt mainly for the following reasons.

Crazy drivers who all think that they are the only ones on the road, and have no regard for others whatsoever, and I cant understand why they carry young children with no protection on their motor bikes.  Dont they care, or even think of what will happen to them should they take a tumble?   "We are safe sir, because God looks after us"

When an accident occurs out some the camera`s to photograph the bodies..this is so bloody gross.

I dont know of how many times I have asked a question of the locals and I have never been given the correct answer, because if they dont know the answer they will make one up rather than to say that they dont know.

There is never an intelligent conversation unless it is about money, family gossip, or talk about the TV celebrities.  ( And every Filipino thinks that they have amazing singing voices )  And that is it.

I dont know for the life of me how they can put up with their dogs continually barking without making them stop, they all seem to be immune to noise, or just cant be bothered.

Everything here is the same no matter where you go, and I would love to find somewhere in the Philippines that is different from the rest so as I could settle there, but cant find one, even though I have tried.

I have helped a lot of people here but in 90% of the time I have been taken advantage of, so now I just dont help anybody.

I am not whinging about living here as I have no choice now, but these are the things that really annoy me plus others as I am sure that you all know what they are and as much as I have tried I just cant get used to accepting them as a way of life here, and I know that they will never change because people just dont want change even if it means a healthier and safer life, so life just goes on as it is.

As I said I have no choice but to live here now, but I do miss the Ausssie bush, the Aussie sense of humour, the smell of the gum trees, the beaches, (which are all free to go on)  etc, etc, but I made my bed and now I have to lay in it, no bodies fault but my own, but I do have a wonderful fiancee whom I really care for as I have never cared for somebody as much before, so I guess that I am a winner. lol.

tambok17 :

The only thing to miss in the USA is much better services. Nothing else, really.

I have never been there but don't you have family or friends there that you miss?

Timpotte, nice story, so you have to shovel away the snow in winter, but you pick mango from your neighbour yard, impossible unless you packed up and moved thousands of miles away, mango only grows with fruit in the tropics far away from any snow.

David WF ,
Iam a aussie also been living here for years, I can relate to what your saying , as you say you cannot change anything here and its a waste of time trying , no one cares, its opossite to australia here in every way, you name it. I dont get homesick but I do miss the aussie food
I go home twice a year to get my sanity back, and pig out on food, just keep a low profile dont let all those annoying things get to you, you can have a good life here and no need to be lonely.

Personally I never get Homesick as I got sick of Home, also being raised in children's Homes for most of my childhood it kind of takes the edge off "  Home Sickess" at least for me personally

Deca 2015 :

Personally I never get Homesick as I got sick of Home, also being raised in children's Homes for most of my childhood it kind of takes the edge off "  Home Sickess" at least for me personally

Agreed and having grown up an abusive home and removed by courts and placed in foster care then to the streets with a good luck and a boot in the ass. I too find this to be my home.  I can genuinely understand your views.


As far as the uk is concerned you will find all the food your used to and yes People understand you and do not disregard your Qualifications you will if your a Nurse for example have to go to train to get you into UK nursing methods that does not mean that your rubbish ok just that different countries do things in a different way to what your used to and to the way you have been trained in the Philippines

Thanks Teejay I appreciate that

It was never a problem for me.   Maybe I traveled to much. So home I had but it was just a place to hang my hat & do the bills before leaving again.   But you do need to get out, make friends, do thigs were ever you are in the world.

I am only here two week and for the adapting part it's,  abit hard but my husband seems to be very happy actually moved down here becoz hubby work here so he wanted fam here as well.As for home sick I think the very first day.i remember driving to our new place from the airport and I tut to myself omw,this is what I left cape town for....but believe me it gets alittle better everyday.

I've been in the Philippines  for 4 months now living in a farming community in NUEVA ECIJA the rice basket of the Philippines ,enjoying life here wonderful people .

The main thing I miss is pickles,pinto beans,baloney...strange but it's the truth ,I don't miss the high crime in the U.S.,in the city I lived in,there was more murders in one day than here in a month,I don't miss the restrictions that they put on people,I have one daughter that I was there for 17 years I miss her but she was doing her thing and it was time I did mine..overall when I do get homesick I just tell myself what home,this is my home now..

I'm sad not being able to move to the phils right now and have to spend some years here, but i'm almost sure not missing anything from this country...

i usually go to makati cause they have several indonesian restaurants or other places that serve indonesian foods. or i'll open streetview and "walk around" places i went to. or just watch youtube. thankfully, Manila to Jakarta is not that far, just 4 hours and another flight opened their direct route from jakarta - manila return flight. so it's easier for me to go home anytime :)

Food seems to be the way to go when dealing with homesickness in the Philippines.

I usually get over my homesickness for the USA by visiting a Burger King, McDonald's or Pizza Hut... because I get to realize (once again) how awful American food can really be... and then I get to appreciate the local foods in the Philippines even more... and I'm less homesick.  :whistle:

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