When have you felt most homesick?
I remember being a new graduate, living (stubbornly) in my uni town, working three jobs to pay for a shite bedsit and wondering what the hell I was doing. I felt really alone and super stressed and all I wanted to do is go back to my mum’s house.
When I first went to Australia in 2014 I remember sitting in the office with hideous jet lag and regretting my decision to work abroad when all I really wanted to do was sleep. I missed London and my cosy flat with AJ and my bustling, fun lifestyle.
More recently, I’ve experienced a homesickness of such severity that it consumed every thought I had for a solid five days and a little beyond. I was in Auckland. I’d left behind the familiarity of a close friend in Sydney and was staying with a friend’s parents who I’d never met (but were absolutely wonderful and made me feel completely at home). I’d been feeling apprehensive about heading to New Zealand alone anyway, but the culmination of a horribly upsetting phone call from the UK, panic of setting off on a three week bus trip with strangers ALONE, and knowing I was missing out on all manner of social events back in London set off the most horrific case of homesickness. I didn’t just miss one place, I missed a country. I missed my life.
I had an intense aching for familiarity; I just wanted to use a plug socket without an adapter or look in my purse and recognise the coins in it. Everything seemed complicated. I couldn’t make a phone call without scheduling it and by the time I looked at my phone when I woke up in the morning, 18 conversation topics had come and passed in the Whatsapp groups I’m part of.
That went a long way to helping me convince myself that everyone had forgotten about me. Of course life goes on, but I became jealous that it had, despite the fact that I was in god damn New Zealand about to embark (unbeknownst to me) on the best part of my entire trip. The FOMO was real. I just had this weird feeling that something wasn’t quite right and I felt so guilty that I wasn’t wanting to be where I was. I mean, I’d quit my job! I’d thrown caution to the wind! I’d spent my life savings! I’d……made a massive mistake?!
And then it all changed. I knew I was homesick but suddenly I was enjoying myself so much that I forgot all about it, and in a complete U-turn, became nervous about going home. What if I’d built it up to be something it wasn’t? What if I got home and nothing was what I remembered? I still wanted to go back to the UK but I weirdly didn’t want that time to come around either. How can you miss something so much and also dread it at the same time?!
I guess I crave home when I’m unsure and unhappy. Security and familiarity make dealing with difficult situations so much easier because home is really just another word for ‘safe’. We take it for granted and forget that we miss it when everything is peachy, but sometimes a good dose of homesickness can help us remember and value what we love the most. And I’m glad I’m home. For now…
(Edit: This was posted the day before the EU referendum. As a proud Remain voter, I now have a whole different case of homesickness; one where I’m terrified of looking back on this time and missing what my home country truly is.)