When I arrived to Iceland a little over a year ago, I didn't think that I'd really feel homesick. That might sound crazy but I was deeply unhappy in the UK and I couldn't wait to leave. I'd knew that I'd miss my friends and family, but I knew that I'd likely see them every few months or at least a couple of times a year.

I look back now and realise how naive I was to think that I'd be completely fine. The first real wave of homesickness was about 4 months after I came. I'd visited home for a week after 3 months and being home was actually was set me of! I came back to Iceland and a few weeks later found myself crying my eyes out because I missed home. I had just been home, that should've kept me going for a few more months!

This is local to where I lived in Birmingham, I miss walking here sometimes

I think I was more sad because home just didn't feel like home anymore - and Iceland wasn't quite home yet either! I'd gone back and nothing had changed in those few months I'd been away, but I'd changed a lot. Birmingham seemed darker and dirtier than I remembered and I noticed how unclean the air felt after breathing in pure Icelandic air all Summer.

I've learned now that the homesickness can strike at any time, without warning, and for the silliest of reasons. Here are a few ways that I deal with it...

Call someone back home

This one is easy. Sometimes it can make me feel a little bit worse when I hear what I'm missing out on, but other times it helps so much! It's so easy to talk to friends and family across the world now with video calls, some nights I chat away for hours. Just remember to account for the time difference!

Get back into old routines

In England I used to use a face mask every Sunday, it was my only day off work and it helped me to unwind for half an hour. I moved to Iceland and didn't use any face masks for about 5 months! Although I haven't quite gotten back into the habit of using one every week I am back in the habit of using them fairly regularly.
I also used to go for a half an hour walk after my commute home from work everyday before I went inside my house. I had a few different walking trails I'd take and I'd switch between them every few days. It helped to clear my head after a long day. Now I go for a walk at least a few times a week after work (but before I start my commute home). I've got a couple of my own trails in Reykjavík that I worked out as a tourist before I moved here.
These routines help me to feel like I'm at home here now.

One of my walking trails goes through this sculpture park

Treat yourself

Every once in a while treat yourself to something nice! Maybe it's a dress that you've had your eye on for a while, a massage, a nice meal, or even just a pamper day at home. Emigrating is a really brave thing to do and you deserve to reward yourself for that, and for sticking with it!

Have an emergency stash of food from home

I was given this advice by one of my friends here a few months after I came. Nothing can comfort you like the food from home when the homesickness suddenly hits you out of the blue. I have a cupboard full of British foods; Bisto gravy, Bisto curry sauce, Angel Delight, Bachelor's pasta'n'sauce, Pot Noodles (most importantly Pot Noodles, they are the cure to everything). When I start to feel emotional over something trivial that reminds me that I miss home, I make a Pot Noodle. I start to feel better pretty quickly after that. Yesterday I found my 2 favourite Pot Noodle flavours (Original Curry and Bombay Bad Boy in case you're wondering) in Reykjavík for the first time ever! That was a small victory.

Finding these in Reykjavík has honestly made my year

Remind yourself why you're here

There was a reason that you left your old life behind and moved abroad. Whether it was a new job, love, or a need for adventure, there was something that drew you into your new country. Remember why you're there and what you love about this new place. Make a list of everything that you have in your new life that you didn't have in your old one. It could be language skills, the strength to adapt to a new climate, or simply a bigger apartment, more money etc.

Coming to Iceland definitely improved my Instagram feed...

So those are my ways of dealing with homesickness, but I'd love to hear yours too! Let me know your tips in the comments!

Loppy x
Today marks one year since I arrived in Iceland! When I came I was expecting to stay for 3 months and then leave for a while before making any decision to return for longer but plans change and I decided to stay.

During my year here so much has happened! I met my boyfriend who I'm now living with (as of a few days ago), I have lived in 3 towns here  (Hveragerði, Kópavogur and Selfoss), I've had 2 jobs in the capital, there was a major emergency back home and I have almost finished Icelandic 3!

I could never have imagined that so much would change in such a short time but I'm so grateful for the changes and things that I've learned along the way. I've met many people from all walks of life, learned about different cultures and started to learn how to communicate in another language.

One of the things I learned a lot about this last year is public holidays. There are a lot of them here and they're celebrated differently from back home. Here are a few I've experiened this last year.

17th June

The 17th June is Icelandic Independence Day. Each town has celebrations and Icelandic flags are everywhere! There are usually family events around the country to celebrate.

Jól (Christmas)

In Iceland, presents are opened on the evening of 24th December rather than the 25th. It is a rather formal affair with the family gathered and dressed in formal attire. Christmas dinner is eaten and the presents are opened after. Everyone gets one present each from each family members instead of a sack full. There are 13 Yule Lads that visit children on the lead up to Christmas and leave small presents in their shoes. Traditonal Christmas food includes Skata (fermented Mantaray).

New Year

New Year is also a family event, a family dinner is eaten before and everyone watches Áramótaskaupið on TV together. It is a sketch show mocking the years events. In downtown there is a huge firework display at Hallgrímskirkja (and it is absolutely terrifying to be a part of!).

Páska (Easter)

On Easter there is a traditional roast dinner eaten (similar to a British roast lamb dinner) and Icelandic Easter eggs are handed around afterwards. The chocolate eggs contain sweets (mostly with liquorice) and a fortune written in Icelandic (a bit like a fortune cookie). The eggs are decorated with little chicks and other embellishments.

Red Days

On Public Holidays and other important days (known as red days) employees are required to be paid more if they are working. The workers unions fought for this to be implemented and it means that anyone working on a red day must be given double pay (or triple on days such as Christmas!). I wasn't aware of this at first and had worked a couple of red days before I knew that I was being paid extra for them!

After my first year living in Iceland I feel that I'm slowly getting used to this cultures holidays and traditions. I find it strange that red days don't always fall on a Monday (like bank holidays back in the UK) and I still don't quite understand all of the holidays (like commerce day which is a public holidays for shop workers, even though everyone is still working...) but the more I learn about the more this place starts to feel like home.

Loppy x