Homesickness can be a serious downer in the face of all your globe-trotting and passport-stamping. There you are, eating gelato while looking at the Leaning Tower of Pisa and allofasudden you’re overwhelmed with a desire for some mall food and a matinee with your best friend.
There’s not one-size-fits-all, airtight cure for homesickness, but these tips have helped through five years of living abroad and 35 countries.
Ways to Cure Homesickness
Stay in touch with people from home.
Think about what you’re really homesick for
Are you homesick for your friends? Your family? Food, language, weather, hobbies?
Of course, you probably miss all of these things in varying amounts, but it can be helpful to parcel them out and decide what you miss the most. If you really miss your friends and family, Facetime ’em.
Find an expat group, travel somewhere that has the snow/beaches/maple trees that you’ve been missing, find some restaurants that serve a reasonable facsimile of your homeland’s food.
Create a go-to homesickness ‘first-aid kit’
Try to push through it
Realize that homesickness is an unavoidable part of travel
Photo by Tom Barrett on Unsplash
The ability to speak and understand any language
Hang time with Little Sister Yes and Yes
A month after my return to the states, Little Sister Yes and Yes packed her worldly belongings into a tiny car and drove herself down to Phoenix. And while I envy her weather these days, I do miss the girl. So, sis. Let’s meet somewhere in the middle and hang for a week, eh? I will even bring some of Grandma’s chocolate/peanut butter/Ritz cookies. Or I’ll bring them and try not to eat them on the way.
A White Christmas
This will be my first non-tropical, Northern Hemisphere Christmas in four years. If it is not positively snow-filled, I am taking my toys and playing elsewhere. Possibly Bolivia.
Several Calm, Drama-Free Months
The next four or five months of my life are shaping up to be, well, rife with plans and changes and Big Important Decisions. I am 80% excited, 20% pukey about this. So here’s hoping that it all goes as well as possible.
Giselle Bundchen’s Jawline
So. I come from a long line of button-nosed blonds. And while we have been blessed with nice feet and good calves, DNA has not smiled on us in terms on jawlines. Friends, I fear there is a waddle in my future. I think I have a few good years left, as the waddle traditionally arrives in tandem with our 35th birthdays, but I’ve been preparing by compulsively applying neck cream every night and developing a method to suck in my jawline. So if anyone has Giselle’s number and knows if she’d be willing to share the love, hook a sister up, kay?
What un-wrappable things do you want this Christmas?
So. I teach ESL to southeast Asian refugees. I love my job. I do. It’s amazing and humbling and I spend a good deal of time playing bingo and teaching chants about ‘be’ verbs. It’s a pretty sweet gig.
Several of my students are KaRen, an ethnic minority from eastern Burma. In the past fifty years, the KaRen have made several attempts to lead insurgencies against the military dictatorship and failed. When these attempts failed, the military began to ‘ethnically cleanse’ the country of KaRen, forcing more than 120,000 of them into refugee camps along the Thailand-Burma border.Though only intended for temporary use, many refugee camps housed KaRen for 10-15 years. The camps are halfway between a shanty town and a prison, where refugees live in tents or huts, aren’t allowed to leave the camp without a permit and aren’t taught the language of their host country. Refugees bide their time until they are allocated to a new host country, something that they often have no say in.
This is the history of my students. Now that they have been in Minnesota for a few months, they know how to take the bus and where they can buy coconut milk. They’ve experienced snow and escalators are officially old news. Now that they’re experts on American life, they get quite excited at the prospect of new students who they can surely ‘break in’ and impress with their knowledge of this cold, new place. They were all a’fluster when I told them on Monday that we’d be getting new students the next day.
On Tuesday, I ushered three demure KaRen women into the classroom when one of my students jumped out of his seat and started yelling … because thousands of miles away, years ago, in the mountains of Thailand, they all lived in the same camp. And now here they were again, in my tiny classroom in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Needless to say, I had to busy myself with my dry erase markers for several minutes so I wouldn’t weep over the joy of it all.
– Dorothy Allison