Homesickness is such a strange feeling to have while studying abroad. I’ve been blessed with a fantastic opportunity to study in a country that I’ve always wanted to come to, I’m seeing such beautiful sights that don’t exist anywhere else in the world, I’m meeting some fantastic people, and…I want…to go home?
Wait, let me get this straight: I’ve spent weeks in Turkey teaching English, I’ve spent months in Bosnia and Croatia, I spent an entire co-op in Los Angeles, I’ve been to places like Italy and Haiti, but it just happens to be now that I’m experiencing the worst homesickness that I’ve had since I was maybe a child? I want to scream this to the heavens in a vain attempt to say, “Hey, you messed up! This isn’t supposed to happen to me anymore!” But, as is all too common, it is happening.
Homesickness is this weird feeling where your head and your heart aren’t just on different pages, they’re in two different books. The head reads from pages of logic: I’m having a great time, I’m seeing some awesome things, and I kind of want to stay. The heart, however, seems to be transfixed by some Shakespearean tragedy where everyone’s sad and feels guilty for being sad. They are two forces that pull me in opposite directions and force me to hesitate every time someone asks me how I’m liking it here.
When I was thinking about what to write about for this week, I almost didn’t choose this topic. It would be wrong not to admit that I didn’t want to break the illusion; I’m supposed to be having the time of my life and never want to come back. Everyone expects you to be living the dream abroad, “widening your perspectives” and what not—anything less would be ungrateful. But, I thought about the purpose of this blog that study abroad runs. They want people to understand what it’s like to go abroad. So, I figured I’d keep it 100 this time around.
Here’s the truth: If you go abroad, you will have so much fun. You’ll be extremely grateful that you’re there. You’ll have a great time, you’ll have the best time. I definitely am happy to be here. But, there will be moments where all you want is a little piece of where you come from, like a solid rock to hold onto in a river of the unfamiliar. You’ll want to just talk to your friends, you’ll want Ben & Jerry’s, and you’ll want to get facebook messages during the day, not just when you’re sleeping. It’s not a bad thing, everyone goes through it, even the seasoned travelers. The important thing is to prepare for it: make a facetime schedule with your friends, set aside some ice cream money, and bring something from home just to hold for when you have those moments.
I think the important thing to remember—and I’m trying to remind myself of this, too—is to not feel guilty for being homesick. It’s natural, normal, and honestly, it would be more worrisome if you never back.