Do you have that Maroon 5 song playing your head now? Good. I’ve succeeded.
There are a lot of great things about living abroad: new food, new faces, new experiences, new ways of thinking, new perspectives. Independence, self-exploration, global exploration, experimenting with paradigms, and all that jazz.
However. Not everything is positive. Not everything is glamorous. Not everything is exciting. To be honest with you (whoever you might be), a lot of things about life abroad are exactly the same as they would be back home: waking up, drinking coffee, dodging traffic, working, drinking coffee, eating with friends, grocery shopping, watching movies, and, oh yeah, drinking more coffee. It’s only the Allegedly Exotic Locale that spices up the everyday routine.
But even the AEL doesn’t overcome certain things. Sometimes it even exacerbates them. Things like culture shock. Things like homesickness.
I’ll write about culture shock another time, because today I am not shocked; I’m merely homesick. It hits the hardest around the holidays, I’ve noticed. At Christmas I was a bit of a wreck. Now it’s Easter, and I’m reminded of the fact that it’s been eight months since I last saw my parents and my brother, not to mention other members of my family and close friends. That’s twice as long as it’s ever been.
You’d think I’d be used to this; after all, I have lived away from home before. I studied abroad my sophomore year [and felt some homesickness then, too], lived on the other end of the country during college, and even in high school I was always workingvolunteeringsinginghangingoutwithfriendsetcetc and was rarely ever home. But this is different. This is eight months (and will ultimately be ten or eleven months, maybe more) of separation. And it kinda sucks.
I remind myself that I chose this, that I have to get used to long periods of time being separated from my family if I want to work on international issues in the places where those international issues are actually happening, that I have so much to be grateful for and excited about here. That helps.
But as my very wise friend told me yesterday, I don’t have to be strong all the time. So today I’m going to admit to the whole wide blogging world that I’m homesick and that I miss my family and my friends. (I don’t think that’s what she meant, but oh well :) )
I’ll wrap up this post by warning you that if you are considering living/working abroad for an extended period of time, be prepared for some (sometimes overwhelming) pangs of longing for the old and familiar to creep up on you from time to time. And when they do, be sure to have some nice family photos and a good Internet connection for Skyping (and maybe some Oreos) on hand to combat them.
Eventually, they’ll abate.