It’s something every traveler tries to avoid like the plague. Feeling homesick after moving to another country or studying abroad is like admitting defeat. Half the reason i moved 10,000 miles away was to prove to myself how independent and self motivated I am.
They say that there is a cycle of emotions that happen when you move to another country. It looks like this:
My good friend Andrew told me he had seen a chart drawn out like this when he went abroad so I looked it up. Ultimately I decided to create my own because there was one part on the roller coaster of emotions that maybe I exclusively feel. Guilt. That’s where I’m at not. I feel guilty for leaving everything behind. Why would I get up and willingly leave everything I love? I feel guilty for missing all the important things happening in everyone else’s lives.
I know that might be a little extreme but it happens. Travel spokespeople say that it’s normal to feel a little depressed after fully settling into a new country. Well… I’ve fully settled in here in Melbourne so I think I’m at this stage.
But out of all of this I’ve learned so many little life lessons. I actually think i have learnt a lot about how my brain works… and how to be alone.
What I’ve learned so far:
1. There is no shame in feeling homesick. Missing home is natural…it might even be weird if you didn’t miss home. There is no rule that you have to put on a happy face when you talk to everyone back home. Think of it like this: when you are at home, are you always happy every moment of every day? No. So why should you be here? When we are unhappy in our new home, our old hope seems like utopia. But remembering the itching feeling a few weeks before you left is what needs to be remembered…because all i wanted to do was get OUT of home and into my new home.
2. Being away makes you realize what you loved about where you come from. There’s a reason why i miss the little things like my cats and my moms hearty food…it’s because being away has made me realize how much i love them.
3. Fear of missing out will only cause you to miss out. I think my friends at home would come here in a heartbeat if they could, but they cant. I could be sitting in a tiny apartment in Boston gossiping any old day. In fact, i did it for 4 years straight, and it might feel like i’m missing out on so much, but chances are they’re not doing anything so out of the box.
4. “Putting yourself out there” just simply does not exist. WTF does that even mean? It sounds so much easier than it actually is.
5. Do the same things/hobbies/exercises that you do at home to keep some sort of sanity. Actually, do them more. It is so much better to look forward to afternoon track practice if i have had an easy day. Gone are the days of being overwhelmed with school work and other priorities all day long and THEN being expected to give 100 percent at practice. Track practice is now a reward, not something to dread. Even if its not exercise, doing something where there is some sort of end goal make days feel productive.
6. Sometimes friends and families would rather hear your voice than see your photos. Eagerness to share photos on facebook on instagram can turn into an obsession with proving to everyone back home that you are having the time of your life and seeing the most incredible things, even if it might not be. I don’t feel as uplifted with 50 likes on an instagram photo as i do with a 30 minute facetime with my friends at home.
7. Make a bucket list. It helps to space out the little and big adventures. If you make Australian (or wherever you are) friends, they probably want to do them with you too.
8. After the first day, you need to completely forget about what you thought it would be like. Before leaving we tend to excitedly make this perfect utopian image in our heads on what we will see, the people we will befriend, endless beach days etc. but it won’t be like that. Unfortunately we don’t exist in the perfection of travel brochures and blogs like we thought we would in our new country.
9. Be okay with being alone. We don’t actually need to have someone attached to us, be it a boyfriend or girlfriend, best friend or sibling, whoever. It’s okay to feel and be alone. Being truly alone is not easy and it sucks. I’m lucky to have a cell phone and laptop to stay connected. But some people in foreign countries don’t have that pleasure. A good friend Ian sent me this video after continuously complaining via Facebook chat how lonely I was. It might have actually helped in all of its tacky glory.
10. Singing in the shower if you live with a host family is weird.
ta for now.