I remember the very first time I got homesick.
I was on a trip to Italy with my mom and grandma. I was 10-years-old and it was my first time outside of the country.
On our first night out in Rome, we stopped at a little place for dinner. I remember ordering spaghetti. What 10-year-old wouldn’t, with an opportunity like this? I remember the dish coming out and taking a bite. It was NOTHING like the spaghetti I ate at home. The sauce was fragrant and filled with herbs. There were chunks of juicy tomatoes throughout. It certainly was not the Paul Newman’s my mom used to stock up on.
Needless to say, I hated it. And after a couple of bites, I was in tears. I pushed the plate away and remember thinking “I hate this stupid sauce and I just want to go home.” Nothing my mom or grandma could say would make me feel better. What I thought would be a familiar dish felt so unbelievably foreign. As did the restaurant. As did the entire city of Rome!
This was a new and strange feeling. It was homesickness, for sure, even though I didn’t know the technical term at the time. I’ve accumulated a number of travel experiences since then, and the feeling of homesickness has come and gone in both small and large bouts throughout. I think it’s unavoidable, to be completely honest. It is such a natural, human emotion that I think we can all relate to, in one way or another.
However- it’s currently week 3 of my 52 week venture around the globe… and I haven’t felt the slightest pinge of homesickness yet. And while I consider myself a travel bug — someone who is usually thrilled by new and different experiences — this is certainly taking me by surprise. I have, after all, made the drastic decision to leave a comfortable life, my family and friends, my day-to-day routine, to travel the world for an entire year, to new and different cities, with a group of complete strangers. Homesickness, off the bat, seemed likely.
But, no. The answer to a common question from many family members and friends: “Are you homesick at all?,” is NO. And I think I know why.
For one, I feel really ready for this. For this entire remote year. My mom — the ultimate travel bug — had been (lightly) pushing me to do something like this since I was a teenager. At that age, though, I would dismiss her — and sometimes even fight her — when the topic came up in conversation. In looking back, I now know that I was too afraid at the time to jump into something like this, even on a smaller scale. Maybe I had a boyfriend I was too scared of leaving? Maybe I was too scared of breaking my daily routine? I am a bit type-A, after all. Maybe I was too scared of the self-growth that I knew would inevitably ensue? Fear, it was. And when we’re talking about fear, we should know that forcing someone into doing something just won’t work. If a thing is gonna happen, it’s because the person — themselves — has come to it on his or her own. And that is exactly what happened here. The decision to do a remote year was mine and mine only. Now here I am, week 3 in Split, Croatia, and I truly believe that there is no other place in the entire world that I should be. Homesickness, as a result, now feels foreign.
Which leads me to my second point. Because I know the first to be true, I made a very conscious effort to establish a routine here just as I would at home. I go to work at home, I go to the gym at home, I watch Netflix at home, I make salads for lunch at home. So, I’ll continue to do all of those things here. Why? Because they make me feel like ME and because they feel like home. I am not away for a week or two, either. I’m away for an entire year. So I think it’s important to look at the upcoming months not as a trip away or as a vacation … but rather, as life! THIS is my life now, so I should do the things that I value and prioritize here, just as I would at home. Geez, home is such a relative term. Maybe that’s another blog post altogether, huh? But for now, I am treating this year just as I would any else. This little mindset shift has made my transition these last few weeks pretty seamless (and dare I say, easy).
While I may feel super ready for the year ahead and while I may have created a super solid and familiar daily routine, I am NOT (by any means) saying that this is the recipe to avoid homesickness at all costs. Just the opposite, actually. I’m sure I will get homesick. I’m sure it will happen multiple times. What I’m really saying here is that I am ready for all of the emotions, homesickness and whatever else, that will arise. Emotions that, years ago, I was too scared to even attempt to face. In many ways, I signed up for this year TO face those emotions, to lean right on into them! I am certainly not attempting to avoid homesickness OR figure out a way to, because that just isn’t realistic and far from the point. Rather, I am allowing myself to feel whatever it is I’m supposed to feel. To acknowledge those feelings. To listen to them. To learn from them and to grow from them. What I’m doing here is finally giving myself that opportunity.