Because I’m thinking all about wanting to go to France for an exchange (more on that later, I’m sure!), and I’ve moved schools and gone 500km away from my friends and old life, I’ve been thinking a little bit about the topic of homesickness and missing things in general. Here’s some of my thoughts put into awkward word form for you to peruse.
N.B. For my purposes, homesickness also means refers to missing people, and well everything, not just specifically your ‘home’ as such. Of course.
There’s different kinds of homesickness.
You knew this already, but here’s some basic kinds I came up with. And yes, I know they all sound the same – hush up and let me explain a little more!
- Missing something you’re never going to get back because it’s gone
- Missing your old life in general and knowing it’s available – just not for you anymore
- Missing something because you’re unhappy where you are
- Missing something because you can’t have it back yet
Allow me to elaborate.
The first point is kind of like when you miss your childhood. You know there’s no way you can ever get it back because it no longer exists – you can never quite recapture, say, the memories of baking cakes with your grandmother if your grandmother is now too old to bake cakes with you. It’s not all doom and gloom, of course – you can bake your own cakes now and they’re actually better than the choc-chip ones you used to make. But sometimes, you just remember those carefree days of quickly licking the spoon when Mama (that’s what I call my grandmother) wasn’t looking, and wish you could have them back. And that’s that.
The second point is one I experience a lot with moving overseas and that. Facebook and I don’t know, other things, show me that everything remains unchanged in Germany – both in general and specific to my situation. My school is still running the same way, and sure, they’ve got some new teachers and more playground equipment there now, but it’s still the same place, and I hear about my remaining friend (the others also having moved) doing the same things that we used to. And Germany is still there, exactly the same, with bakeries selling chocolate croissants and nut-Schneckes, and snowy winters and the warm glow of a Weihnachtsmarkt and the life I used to have. And I can’t have it, any of it. The thing I miss is still right there, all going on without me – and I can’t go join back in, it’s impossible for me.
Point 3: this applies to me at the moment! You miss absolutely everything just because where you are isn’t familiar, or is unpleasant for you. Because you’re not happy at the moment, you find yourself just poring over your old memories instead and wishing you were still living those instead of what you’ve currently got. As I said, common in unfamiliar or unpleasant situations. You just want everything back to the way it was, instead of waiting to get used to where it is now.
Ah, the final point! And the one which is more applicable to, say, an exchange student. You’re taken out of wherever you were, but you know you’re going back, eventually. (This is the one I have the least experience with.) It seems like forever until you get back ‘home’ and you find yourself looking forward to it and pining after that day, maybe not living life to the full because you’re paying too much attention to the future and not the present.
Methods of combating said homesickness
Personally I find myself latching onto anything that reminds me of what I’m missing. This usually has one of two effects:
- Remembering everything in even more detail and emotion
- Soothing your worries away a little
The first effect is self-indulgent, though not necessarily wrong. It’s good to remember things, to keep memories alive – it’s wonderful. However, it can be bad too – if you’re already upset because you miss your best friend like anything, and have no replacement, reading a page full of inside jokes between the two of you can make you even more sad and depressed about not having her with you. A trinket from your going-away party makes you remember that time when people were honestly upset about you leaving – not good if you’re currently somewhere where few people care. (Note: Starting a new school might be a good example of this…)
AND YET that doesn’t always happen. Memories can also have a great effect – because they remind you of happy times, basically. You might read through those inside jokes and crack up once again and be cheered up. Or hold the trinket and be able to tell yourself truthfully, “I am good. People miss my presence because people like me because I am worthy of being liked.” And the trinket is your proof. On a school trip with people I didn’t know very well, a minuscule toy in my bag was my instant mind-soother because if I was upset because I wasn’t enjoying myself, I just picked it up and thought about the good times I’d had in the past, when my friend gave me the little toy.
You know, this was supposed to be a helpful piece. But I think it’s more just me talking about homesickness in general. And that’s OK too. So here you are.