The cab driver Saturday night asked us if we liked it in Sydney.
Brendan, as always, said he loved it. “She doesn’t,” he told the driver.
“It’s not that I don’t like it,” I said. “I just don’t want to be here forever.”
“Where are you from?” Brendan asked the driver, as always.
“Pakistan. A remote village near Islamabad.”
“Do you like it here?” I asked.
“It’s a great country,” he replied.
“But, no matter how bad the country is that you came from, you always miss home.”
As readers would guess from some of my recent posts, I was feeling homesick the first half of this year. I feel a lot better now, for several reasons: I have met some financial goals I set for myself; my work is going well; Brendan and I booked several trips over the next few months; and I intend to visit home this year. I continue to meet new people and foster friendships and explore this country and myself. In short, I am doing all the things you’re supposed to do to get the most out of living abroad.
But I’m a tough cookie.
One of the things living abroad has taught me is to appreciate what you left. Australians Caz and Craig from yTravel Blog wrote a post today about the things they miss about America. About 10 things on the list — brewed coffee, better Internet, highways, etc. — I truly miss myself. They make up the surface layer of feeling homesick abroad.
A bit deeper is the part that believes life is easier in America. Cheaper, more convenient, more efficient. More options, more thinking outside the box, more diversity.
Deeper still lies the part of feeling homesick abroad that encompasses family and friends. Even if at times they make you want to rip out your eyebrow hair, they understand you like no one else. We all have walls, but I believe that for me, it takes a long time to develop a truly deep friendship with someone. I’ve known all of my closest friends for more than a decade. Collectively, they have been there through nearly every major event in my life.
I think the almost subconscious layer of feeling homesick abroad centers on how many feel about their country of origin. It is not about challenging yourself to be different and to be in a different culture. Any of us who have traveled or moved abroad are trying to do both. It’s about that nagging Americanism, the patriotism, the pull to your mother country. The feeling when you meet a compatriot or step onto U.S. soil for the first time after a long time away: This is where I am from.
How do you define feeling homesick abroad? How do you work through it?