The Phases of homesickness

Depending on the situation, being away from home can be an amazing time simply because you’re no longer home. You’re away from the monotony of your usual life and everything is new and interesting. That was what it was like for me when I first came to Ireland. I couldn’t take my eyes off all the little differences between Ireland and America, whether it is double decker buses or the fact there’s always a pub a stone throw away. Anything and everything was fascinating because of its newness. And that newness keeps a lot of the homesickness at bay because you’re too busy to feel homesick. Because you will be very busy when you arrive, with figuring out where everything is, what phone provider to get, how to pay for things, where to shop. It’s overwhelming.

American Mac and Cheese

So it’s only when you’ve been in a foreign country for a couple weeks or a couple months that you start to miss the familiar, the comfort of home. I remember a month in, I would call my mom all the time, missing her and my cat. I became really obsessed with Kraft’s Mac and Cheese because its not available here, and it wasn’t so much the food I missed, because in reality it tastes like wet cardboard, but the memories connected to it. And then the homesickness will peter off, you become busy and don’t call your parents as much, and you begin to create your own familiarity with Maynooth. It becomes a second home. There will be spikes of homesickness at random things, like seeing American candy in Tesco, or you’ll really miss the people back home and not even the home itself. I no longer really miss my life back in America because I love my life here, but I miss the people back in America. It’s like I wish I could transplant them here and blend them together. But everyone experiences homesickness differently and sometimes people never lose their homesickness and carry it around with them, knowing where their true home is. But even when you do finally get back home, whether it’s for a visit, or you’re back for good, sometimes there’s a reverse culture shock. When I’ve visited America, it was weird being back. It was just different from what I remembered and I no longer found comfort in the image of America as my home.

Of course this strange alien-ness that America held for me probably would have faded in time, but I didn’t stay long enough to know. But I do believe in the idea that you can get used to anything, which isn’t always good, but isn’t always bad either. So the homesickness will come and go, but the longer you stay in a foreign country the more familiar it becomes to you.

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