Overcoming Homesickness

Homesickness has hit me like a Thai teacher’s hand to the back of a rowdy student’s head – swiftly, consistently, and without reason. Each time my wanderlust wins the battle between stay and go, ten weeks later my homeland fights back with a vengeance.

I recognize it almost instantly, often when my mood is sour about something silly and unrelated, and I find myself saying I hate China, or Thailand, or Los Angeles or Spain, for some unworthy reason. It always attacks somewhere between the two-and-a-half to three-month anniversary of my absence, just when the newness of a place is beginning to wear off, a routine taking its place.

Yet it strikes me as odd that, for me, homesickness and wanting to go home don’t necessarily go hand in hand. Yes, in these moments I dream of sitting down for a face-to-face conversation with the ones I love most and curling up with my always-understanding pooch and squeezing him until all of these feelings pass, but I know I don’t actually want to return.

Well, when I look at this face, I do kinda want to return 🙁

Things won’t be different if I return now or eight months from now, and it consoles me to know that. My parents will continue to enjoy their first year as empty nesters. My siblings and friends will remain busy finding their own ways in life. Everybody else will go about their daily lives as usual. And I know when I do go back, we’ll all pick up where we left off, just like we do every other time.

I know an impulse decision would leave me feeling worse in the end. If I flew home tomorrow, I’d be angry at myself as soon as I boarded the plane. I’d be mad that I’m ruining my chances of earning a teaching assistantship at CSU based on my one-year of experience teaching at the university level. I’d be disappointed that I gave up a paid, two-month holiday and my plans to go to India. And I’d be broke, wishing I’d stayed long enough to stash the savings I’m planning to return with at the end of my contract.

So I know the obvious answer is the wrong one. Instead, I just need to get my hands on a cure. A combined concoction of talking about it, writing, and Starbucks usually does the trick.

At about this time last year, I was writing similar words for Bella Vita. If you read this essay, it won’t surprise you that I’m now writing from the comfort of my cozy Starbucks chair, my red cup in hand and a savory muffin on a plate in front of me. I even managed to find possibly the only Starbucks in Guangzhou that has all the holiday favorites (including white chocolate, which most stores here don’t carry) and has been playing Christmas tunes all morning. I already feel better.

As I stare out the window at the rest of the city waking up to the dreary greyness of the day, I get lost in pleasant thoughts of home, making each delicious sip last. I know when my brew is gone I’ll still be in China, but I also know that if this cup (and telling hundreds of you about my woes) doesn’t completely cure me, I can always have another.

What do you do to overcome homesickness? 


Overcoming Homesickness
Written by:Jessica Hill

15 Comments

  1. I remember my first Christmas away from the UK, my family put the laptop on a chair and we Skyped as they opened their presents. So painful! These days I feel much more settled but I still get waves of homesickness! These days I have emergency bars of Cadbury’s chocolate in the fridge for any sad moments.

  2. edkranz says:

    I always hit homesickness about a month before each holiday period. I always find company of friends or I take time out to go to a place that reminds me of home that only I know about. Everywhere I’ve been I have one place just for me.

    • jessicajhill says:

      That’s a great idea, Ed. I already feel better when I begin to plan my adventures in India. The more I look into it, the more I’m reminded of how I ended up here in the first place – I’m kind of a gypsy!

  3. mishvo says:

    My version of homesickness manifested as a depressing bout of loneliness. I wasn’t so much wishing I could go home as I was wishing I could just leave Bangkok. Guess what cured me? I went on an epic solo jaunt through the south of Thailand during my October holiday. Traveling was stimulating and empowering and reminded me why I decided to move to Thailand. Anyways, I guess what I’m saying is my suggested remedy is to take full advantage of your next holiday and do something adventurous and empowering!

    • jessicajhill says:

      You’re so right! It’s interesting that solo travel cured your loneliness, when one thinks about it, but I completely understand how that works. It’s so incredibly rewarding to travel alone, and with the company of those you meet along the way, a good book, or just yourself, you’re never really alone. I’m planning a trip to India for my upcoming seven-week holiday, and I already feel better just thinking about it. (Starbucks helped too!)

  4. nicole says:

    <3

  5. Tammy Barrett says:

    What I do to fight the homesickness is read your blog posts, Facebook and phone calls. Most of all I look forward to my family sending pictures of my Grandchildren to stare at over and over. When driving all over the US I travel many roads but the road home is the one that gives me a thrill. The further west we travel the more I feel at home. I have to remind myself that it is only a two day drive with a team of two driving.

    • jessicajhill says:

      I’m so happy my blog can help a little bit! I’m feeling much better after a weekend of talking to friends and family, writing and Starbucks. Plus, the thrill of a new adventure gives me something to look forward to. Knowing you’re only two days away must be comforting in some respect, but too bad you can’t always dictate when you get to head west….

  6. I just have to say that this intro was amazing and hilarious, “Homesickness has hit me like a Thai teacher’s hand to the back of a rowdy student’s head – swiftly, consistently, and without reason.”

    Personally when I’m homesick I just skype my mom or a friend – it really relieves me to just admit that I’m unhappy (at least on that day) and then strategize a plan to fix whatever problems I’m dealing with. But France is a lot more similar to the U.S. than China so it’s definitely a different situation!

    • jessicajhill says:

      Thanks for your words, Ashley. I agree – mom’s always know best! I’m feeling much better after a week of sulking, Starbucks and talking to friends and family about it to, like you say, get it off my chest and realize how silly it sounds coming out of my mouth.

      I don’t think the feeling has anything to do with similarities between western cultures and others – I was just as homesick (if not more!) when I moved to Spain for my first adventure abroad. The sad part was I didn’t understand then why I felt that way.

      I love reading about your adventures in France. I’m envious of your apple farm experience!

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