Heimweh v. Wanderlust:

Positive Ways to Combat Homesickness in Playa del Carmen

~ Lucy

Homesickness is an experience that nearly all expats have in common- that longing to be near familiar faces and places, to sit down to a family meal at home or perhaps even to just have a Big Mac that tastes like it’s supposed to. Homesickness comes in all shapes and sizes and varies by person. Here’s the shape and size of my personal homesickness and how I’ve learned to handle it:

For me, boredom breeds homesickness. My heart and my mind tend to find themselves entangled in nostalgia when I have nothing on my plate for the day. Here are some things that have helped me stay busy in Playa:

Tutoring: It’s not uncommon for parents of students to ask for tutoring lessons. I’ve been able to start building friendships with some of the people in our neighborhood and it’s been a lot of fun to learn more about them and the area. Alternatively, you can either post ads on Facebook pages like Mercadolibre and Bazar Soy Playense, or try to communicate directly with hotels who might be looking for tutors for their employees.

Volunteering: There are a lot of opportunities for volunteering in Playa del Carmen. My volunteer opportunity of choice so far has been with Playa Animal Rescue, an animal shelter that specializes in re-homing street dogs in the Playa del Carmen area. For a first visit, it’s best to try to join one of their Saturday Charm Schools during which you get the opportunity to meet the staff and to walk, bathe, and play with the dogs. They meet every Saturday at 9:00AM in the parking lot of the Mega downtown. Other places that accept volunteers include Veterinarios Internacionales Dedicados a Animales Sanos (ViDA) and Keeping Kids In School (KKIS).

Finding a new hobby: The Riviera Maya has a lot of opportunities to offer- from snorkeling to yoga, you can find a way to do nearly anything here. For me, diving has been a great way to spend the time during which I otherwise I might have found myself knee-deep in reminiscing.

On occasion, I find myself simply wanting to be somewhere that feels familiar. These are the times when I make my way to the Wal-Mart on 30th or the downtown McDonald’s (the Big Macs really don’t taste exactly the same, in my relatively authoritative opinion, but they do the job).

For those times when nothing else can cure that ache for home, I’ve always found it best to call or Skype with family and friends.

At the end of the day, the best way to relieve homesickness is to live in the moment and enjoy the incredible journey that is living in Mexico!