How to Combat Homesickness in Thailand
Even though teaching in Thailand keeps you pretty busy, you will definitely experience downtime. Most schools finish between 4 pm and 5 pm, which then give you a solid chunk of time to spend on what you want to do.
Find a new hobby
One of the best ways to combat homesickness and occupy your free time is a hobby. There are lots of things to do in Thailand. You can further participate in an old hobby, such as yoga or cycling, or get into something new, such as Muy Thai or karaoke. Finding something you are passionate about gives you a sense of purpose and can also introduce you to like-minded people. So find what you love, do some research on what’s in your city, and get crackin. For example, I rented a motorbike. This serves a dual purpose. First, it helps us get around our city, and, second, it also gives me a way to get fresh air and ride around the city at night. I never would have thought I would love riding a motor scooter, but it’s awesome, and a new way for me to relax and get outside.
A great way to spend time and feel good is working out. There are gyms all throughout Thailand and usually only cost $30 a month or so. Working out is great for you mentally, emotionally, and physically. If you start to feel overwhelmed by the new environment and culture, working out is a great way for you to escape, be active, and then relax.
When you aren’t teaching, you can get inspired by prepping your next trip. A good trip requires plenty of planning, especially in SE Asia. So if you feel trapped at home and need to occupy your mind, look forward to where you are going next. It could be something like a day trip outside your city, or something more advanced like preparing for you break between semesters. Either way, looking ahead will give you hope and motivation to get you through patches of boredom and homesickness.
If you love writing or photography, then blogging or freelance work could be a great fit. If you have any remote skills, you can freelance. While living here for the year, I’ve started freelancing writing. It’s by no means a full-time gig, but I get clients here and there. I love it. It gives me something to do and helps us earn some extra cash. We also have launched a travel blog together, which has been a great way for us to keep busy on weeks when we aren’t able to travel.
Learn to cook
If you have a small kitchen, put it to use. We definitely love Thai food, but also sometimes want a more familiar taste of home. One way to get that is to cook your own food. You can practice well-known recipes from home, explore new SE Asian cuisine, or break in the basics with a grilled cheese sandwich. Regardless of your experience, cooking is a great outlet to do something meaningful and rewarding. It can also save you money in the long run.
If all else fails, you can always stream movies and tv shows. I also recommend bringing a Kindle for readers. If you aren’t in a major city like Bangkok or Chaing Mai, then finding English books can be difficult. So if you want to read bring something that you can download books on. TV and movies are trusty backup plans, but I wouldn’t recommend making them your first choice for two reasons. First, these are usually comfortable routines we already had in America. It’s not much of an experience living abroad if we just do the same things we did in America here. Get out there and experience Thailand! Keep them in your back pocket for hard nights, but try to find better outlets. Second, watching a lot of TV and movies can actually be depressing and make you feel worse. It’s better to find healthy, life-giving ways for you to spend your time, rather than ways that can leave you feeling even worse.
Teaching in Thailand will definitely keep you busy. And if you plan on traveling a lot then you may not have a lot of downtimes. But, that being said, you may find yourself on weeknights thinking, “what am I going to do.” TV and movies are easy to watch, but not always satisfactory. I recommend thinking through what you want to accomplish during your time overseas and finding life-giving hobbies and activities that help you achieve those goals.