On Homesickness

Literature

Ed. note: I’m reposting this after a wave of recent homesickness, but it was originally posted on June 28, 2011.

There are these weeds in Rome – I’m sure they’re in other places too, but I’ve only ever seen them in Rome – that have long stems that look furry, but they’re prickly. If you grab them without thick gloves it feels like your hand was dipped in acid for about two minutes, which is a long time when your hand feels like it’s been dipped in acid. During those two minutes you’re running to wash your hands and then you’re washing your hands and you can’t think of anything else except the blinding pain. And then the pain subsides and it’s hard to remember how badly it hurt.

This is what homesickness feels like, except the blinding pain is inside you so there’s no washing it out; you’ve got to ride it out until it subsides. And when you’re fully ensconced in a life that’s thousands of miles from the aforementioned home, you pray it does subside because the alternative – a tailspin into abject unhappiness followed by the crash of an enormous life change – is unthinkable. In the meantime, your existence is pulled apart as you go through your life here while your heart and soul are there.

A few things should be noted about homesickness:

  • It’s not the same as missing a person or a place, although missing can turn into homesickness if not kept in check. If you’re missing someone, get in contact with them ASAP. If it’s a place you’re missing, do whatever you can to have the place you’re in overwhelm you.
  • It’s not the same as home pride. I cry like a baby whenever I hear the National Anthem over here, but it doesn’t make me want to take the next plane to America.
  • It’s not the same as negative culture shock, at least as far as expats go. While culture shock is a very real thing, it makes you more pissed off and disconcerted than anything else. Homesickness makes you ache.
  • It’s dangerous to mistake nostalgia for homesickness. You can’t bring back the past, even if you go back to the physical place.
  • It’s always a big freaking surprise. There’s no predicting it, which means there’s no avoiding it.
  • Its trigger is inconsistent. You can look at a photo or listen to a song or watch a movie or hear from someone back home a million times with no homesickness; then it triggers a crushing weight of homesickness; then the next time you’re fine.
  • It’s out of your control. Although I’m not sure why you’d want to, theoretically you could work yourself into a lather missing someone through conscious effort. Homesickness is more like actual sickness, like a cold – you’re feeling fine and all of sudden, “Dammit, now where did this stuffy nose come from?”

This past Sunday, Fabulous Cousin sent me a gorgeous photo from his phone of my hometown beach, and wrote that he was having dinner with my parents later on. I wanted to be there so badly! I miss my beach, and my family, and those long late summer afternoons around the table or out on the porch. I miss people dropping in all the time for coffee. I miss the heavy, salty air at night and listening to the sound of the waves from my bed. But I’m not homesick.

I miss Rome as well, although not as strongly because I’m there so often. But there are times, especially in the summer, when I wish I was walking with Marco along the aqueduct to Luca and Alfio’s house for a rooftop dinner, or exploring some hidden corner of the city with Leo and Vincenzo.

New York, though. New York is my Achilles’ Heel of homesickness. Right now, in fact, I’m having a nasty bout of homesickness for New York and it sucks. And this time, I’m blaming the gays!

Of all the things in this world that don’t affect me directly, there are two I consider personal “hot button” issues – education and gay rights. I actually can’t even defend them at length, because after about 30 seconds I get so worked up I start crying. A couple weeks ago was Montpellier’s Pride parade, and I cried through the whole thing. And don’t get me started on scenes about education in The West Wing; I’ve watched that show so many times, I start with the waterworks in anticipation of the dialogue I know is coming. Frankly, it’s embarrassing; but I won’t apologize.

All this is to say that I woke up on Saturday to the news that New York passed a gay marriage law. Yay! I watched the speeches from the floor of the State Senate, and yes, I cried when a woman yelled THANK YOU in the silence that followed the cheers that followed the vote count. I was so proud of New York. And as I clicked through the many photo galleries of celebrations, I wished with all my heart that I could have been there to join in the party.

But I didn’t feel homesick until I saw a photo of the Empire State Building lit up in rainbow colors. BOOM. A part of my soul detached, traveled over the Atlantic, and settled itself somewhere between Bar & Books and Corner Bistro. A picture of movie night at Bryant Park, which usually brings back happy memories, instead made my heart hurt. I often imagine “Empire State of Mind,” a great anthem performed by Alica Keys, being played before a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden; this time it was as if New York itself was reminding me of my roots, and calling me back. Even the sound of an American police car siren on a show I was watching hit me like a punch. And the show wasn’t even set in New York! Ridiculous. Stupid homesickness.

And then, this morning, it was gone. I’ve returned to sanity, and a strong desire to have fun right here – at this home, my home. Here and now.

Just let me listen to this song one… more… time:

123 thoughts on “On Homesickness

  1. Great post!

    I felt that way many years ago for my native Canada (I’ve lived in NY since 1989) when it looked like Quebec might actually separate from the rest of Canada…Canadians (never highly demonstrative or patriotic) were flying from far away to persuade total strangers in the streets of Montreal to re-consider. It was a pivotal moment in history and I was not there to be a part of it, but watched it (!) on TV screens at the consulate in NYC.

    I get homesick for landscapes and diners and summer evenings that last til 10:00 p.m. Summer makes me homesick. I never miss Canada in the winter!

  2. God, I know exactly how you feel. I’ve been living in New Zealand for just over a year and it’s amazing how random the things are that set me off. And it is an ache, one that you can’t really soothe. You just have to ride it out.

    Missing home (as opposed to homesickness) is a little different, I guess. I described it to a good friend the other day as not so much missing the big events in people’s lives, but missing the minutia of their days. It makes you feel like an outsider.

    Anyway, here’s to riding out the ache. And remembering what we love about the new places we live.

  3. I love this post and your notes about homesickness. I was born and raised in Texas, and lived there about 23 of my 26 years of life, and I now have lived in Ohio for the past couple years. I know it’s not a huge jump. I’m not in another country, but I still get that homesickness every so often and it’s just like you said! It just HITS me, and I want nothing more than to go back home, and it hurts because I know I can’t right now. It’s SUCH a terrible feeling. . .but then it passes. . .

    • No, I think it’s a big jump. I’m coming from the point of view of an expat, but when I lived in New York there were times I was homesick for my home – in NEW JERSEY. it’s a mysterious thing, homesickness, and like you said, it just HITS. I don’t think it matters where you may call home.

  4. This is why I can’t see myself leaving where I live now, the most I spent away was five months travelling, and I found myself missing (other than the big obvious things like my family and friends) all those little things that one knows so well that make life just that much easier…

          • …and to wait 3 or 4 days for jeans to dry!!

            I’ve lived in Canada most of my adult life and have moved to London 3 years ago. Oh man, do I miss Canada, Canadians and Canadian-ness. It’s bizarre and so difficult to explain what exactly I miss to those back home, as it’s kind of a feeling rather than missing very specific things that I can itemise.

            I miss people looking me in the eye, I miss the fact that it’s ok to ask questions, I miss people smiling at each other, and engaging occasionally in idle conversation with strangers, I miss the ‘can do’ attitude, I miss a city where I can visit friends without an hour commute,… I could go on. It’s likely a sense of comfort and of understanding how things work and nuances of interactions, and having some sense of what to expect and what is ‘normal’.

            Anyway, all that to say, beautifully written post. It really touched a cord. Thank you.

  5. Spot on, as always! The pictures of the Empire State Building totally gave me goosebumps and made me want to teletransport myself back to THE city.

    • Yeah, the dam broke with that photo. Although today, I can look at it and I’m just like, awwww. No wave of emotion.

  6. as i started to read this…..i thought to myself……” and i had to go and send a pic of 55th st beach”

    btw…
    the gnocchi was ABFAB!!

    love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Awww, honey! I cleared your name later on in the article. Please ALWAYS send me pix from your visits!! it made my whole day.

  7. I actually didn’t have much of any homesickness when in Europe, aside from the night that Obama was elected and I was the lone American in a 24/7 internet cafe watching the election. However, I’ve found that since coming back, I really miss a lot about Europe, especially Eastern European food.

    • Oh, man, that was definitely a homesick moment. Although I have to say, I loved being an American here and people reacting to the election AT me, it was awesome and I was so proud to be an American. (My own political opinions aside, I moved to Europe in 2002, so didn’t have a lot of moments like that.)

  8. This is such a beautiful post — makes me want to read more AND buy your book!

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. I love your Twitter comment about the gay boyfriend and ukelele…great advice…
    😉

    • Ha! I can’t take credit for that tweet, it was simply a comment on my good friend Pam’s tweet. She’s over at nerdseyeview.com, go visit her as well. As for reading more AND buying, I say, go for it!

  9. My partner and I are home in the US now, but had spent the previous two years living abroad–a year in Vietnam, another in Haiti.

    All this to say–I understand the expat expereince–the waxing and waning of homesickness—–and as a lesbian am proud I’d have the right to marry the woman I love were we living in NY.

    But we are “home” (so to speak) in Kentucky–having the ultimate expat experience–unable to celebrate our love with marriage–homesick for a place where we can legally love!

    Excellent post–and congrats on being FP-ed!

    Kathy

    • You’re having like triple culture shock then! Getchyer butts to NY and tie the knot, you crazy kids!

  10. I lived in NYC the last two years and ended up having to come back to my home town after much grief. THere’s something about nyc that nothing seems capable to contend with. I have to many of my happiest memories there. So yea I get what you’re talking about it sucks so hard to be missing such a great place. I’ve never missed a place the way that I’ve missed NYC.

    I really love my home town because I have so many awesome friends here that cannot be replaced but it doesn’t change how freakin awesome NYC can be. The people, the bars, the clubs, the restaurants, the scenery, the subways, the walks, the beauty of the streets. These days I only go there when my friend can house me at her place. Makes me a bit of a bum I guess.

    • Oh man, I’m a double bum then – I shack up with friends all the time when I go back.

      New York isn’t called The City for nothing. There’s nothing else that compares. It’s its own living entity.

  11. I really like how you broke down the different elements of being homesick – not sure I’ve seen it ever done quite that way and definitely made me think. Next time I feel homesick I’ll probably check to see if it’s nostaglia, home pride, country shock, etc.🙂

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed😉

    • YOU! Thanks, you. For everything.

      I actually hadn’t thought of it in categories either, until my cousin sent me that photo. Even in the throes of NYC homesickness, I found it surprising that when I “checked in” with my ache, it didn’t transfer over. And there are times when the situation is reversed. It got me to thinking!

  12. I was on my Grand Tour and got dreadfully home sick. In Europe I overloaded on History and castles and old gardens. I had a wonderful christmas with a family in Frankfurt but by early new year I desperately wanted to see a gum tree and hear a kookaburra and most of all I wanted to hear another Aussie accent. I jumped the next possible plane home, but as soon as I got home I wanted to be back in Europe. Something about the grass being greener on the other side?

    • I think there is a greener-grass theory at play. As much as I was homesick for New York, when I pictured myself there I knew I was leaving out things like the ever-present urine smell, the crowds, other stuff that drives me bananas. And vice-versa when I’m there.

  13. Oh yeah, I was homesick, too, when I lived in Spain for a while, and it were the teeny tiny things that made me enter this certain state of nostalgia, like bread or a specific road sign or a smell. Kind of jumped me inexpectedly since I didn’t consider myself the weepy emotional type of traveller. Well, I am though. But the good thing: bonding with the locals over a bottle of wine while everybody is telling stories of how much he loves his home is a real fun thing to do. Met my favourite spaniards that way. Great post!

    • SMELLS! Smells can undo me. Olfactory memory is one of my obsessions! And I love your “cure” – may have to try that one out tonight!

  14. Wow! This post clarified a lot of the things I was/am feeling. Having been an expat for the past 5 months, it was difficult to explain the unique expat form of homesickness I was feeling to my friends and family back in the U.S. Now, though, it’s even harder to explain the sudden bouts of homesickness I get for Belgium.
    Your blog is great and I’ve been looking for a spirited, sassy, travel blog to follow for awhile! Thanks!

    • Hi! Yes, I agree that expat homesickness is another creature entirely. It’s the cultural differences, I think.

  15. For all the reasons you mention, the sooner the Almighty drops a divine nuclear bomb on Babylon-on-the-Hudson, the BETTER!

    • Well, Fr. John+, that’s certainly not a very Christlike thing to say. Look, everyone, we have a troll in our midst who, all the way from Honolulu, feels threatened by happy New Yorkers, Byrant Park movie nights and an Alicia Keys song! Please, make him feel welcome.

  16. I grew up in Bavaria and they have a nice saying:
    “man kann die Leut aus der Heimat nehmen aber net die Heimat aus de Leut ”

    translated it means …….

    “you can take people away from their home but you can not take the home away from the people”

  17. the thing with homesickness
    Not only doesn it not fade away with passage of time,
    but on the contrary
    the intensity of the sickness increases.

    Just this weekend i was thinking,
    I am tired of passing time with people who don’t really care about me
    Whom i don’t really care about.
    Who spend time together only to escape loneliness

    Can i ever live with my loved ones in the same city?
    That will be home.

    http://thenewcomer.wordpress.com/2011/06/24/blogging-the-smarter-farter/

  18. This post described so many feelings I’ve experienced over the last few years. Five years ago I moved to the USA from Australia. Sometimes homesickness will hit me like a tonne of bricks, out of nowhere. I feel miserable and will cry. Eventually it passes. After five years of homesickness my husband and I have decided to move back to Australia. It just wasn’t getting any easier for me.

    • That’s the tailspin I’m talking about, the one that terrifies me. I’m NOT saying that it is in ANY WAY your fault; like I said, it’s not something you can control. But I am heartened to see you and so many others know what I’m talking about. It’s a comfort!

      • Until a person goes through it, its hard to understand what homesickness is like. Likewise – its a comfort knowing someone else out there understands the emotions associated with homesickness. In my situation I let myself ride those feelings out when they got intense. I took those feelings for what they were, I knew they’d pass.

  19. What a wonderful post! I love how the story unfolded, and how you described things. You also articulated something I’ve as of late been trying to explain to people and haven’t been able to do very well — the difference between homesickness and missing. After living in Houston for nearly 18 years, I recently relocated to the Bay Area a little over a month ago. There are things I miss in moments here and there, but I’m convinced I live in the best city in the world (although admittedly I’ve never been to NYC), and so I don’t dwell on them too much so as to avoid falling into homesickness. It is comforting to understand the difference, though. Thank you for sharing this. It was a great read!

  20. I have now lived overseas over half of my life- and I have done the mistake of mistaking nostalgia for homesickness- did not even realise that what I was doing… and I also made the mistake of moving back home.. which did not work (moving BACK is actually a much bigger culture shock that moving AWAY) and i ended up moving abroad again. An elderly expat I met a long time ago told me this wisdom: After 9 years- the happiest place is an aeroplane… when you are either going home or going back home to your new home…

  21. Pingback: Holy Mother of God…. it’s time to grow up. | byo. piece of inspiration

  22. This is a great post! I loved it. I’m a bi-national citizen and I’m always missing the place I’m not in. Fiercely. I’ve been missing America for the last 8 years or so. Even when I’m back there, I miss it already because I know I have a limited amount of time to spend there.

    “Homesickness is just a state of mind for me. I’m always missing someone or someplace or something, I’m always trying to get back to some imaginary somewhere. My life has been one long longing.” -Prozac Nation

  23. Great post! It was timely because, coincidentally, I was plagued by a bout of homesickness today. My trigger was sweating profusely on an un-air-conditioned train out of Milan today. Despite ADORING Italy and being amazed by its beauty, and deeply appreciating our experiences in Dubai (where we live), I still sometimes long for a cold margarita in an air-conditioned Tex-Mex restaurant in my old ‘hood. Enjoyed reading your perspective on homesickness, especially today. 🙂 Congrats on being freshly pressed!

    • Nothing can make me more homesick for Ocean City than the 105 bus in Rome. And for NY, the lack of Mexican food everywhere over here!!!

  24. I am not from New York City. I am from Hanoi city Vietnam, but I felt connected with NYC at the first sight. It is like a crush on the cutest guy that you can possibly meet in this entire world. Your post is a beautiful analysis of your own feeling and emotional sickness, which not many people are able to describe in words. I was a bit crying when I read your post and listening to Empire State of Mind

  25. don’t forget how hot NY is in the summer. the heat can be stifling. I guess that’s one of the beauties of homesickness – selective memory.

  26. I so get what you say and I know all of those feelings sooo well! As a South African living in London (for almost two years now), I have those longings and aaahhh-feelings of wishing I was visiting my family, or walking next to the sea, or lying in my hammock in the garden! When the soccer World Cup was on last year, my heart ached with wishing I could have been in SA, but also with pride at knowing that my country was being shown in all its splendour to the world. At a zumba class recently we danced to Shakira’s Waka-Waka It’s Time for Africa, and in my sweat and swirl, I cried real tears of homesickness! It does hit you unexpectedly!
    Congratulations on being FP – great reading your post!
    Sunshine

  27. This is a very sweet post! Congrats on not only being freshly pressed, but also on your book! Homesickness happens because you remember all the good times you had from your town with family and friends. So even when it gets tough, you’re lucky to have those loved ones and beloved places to miss.🙂

  28. I went to school 6 hours away from my home. It was terrible sometimes when I would see pictures or here stories about my family going to my favorite places. Thanks for sharing and congrats on being FP!

  29. I moved from New England (Maine) to California…. it’s not quite the same because I’m in the same country but I’m still 3,000 miles away from everything I’ve ever known. I don’t usually regret moving because I love it here – the weather, the culture, the cities, my new friends but sometimes that ache in the back of my stomach makes me want to go to SFO and get the first plane home. And then the next day I’m glad I didn’t because something wonderful happens that makes me fall back in love with the home I have right now.

    It’s difficult to deal with that. Someone definitely needs to invent a teleporting device. haha

  30. I was born and raised in Green Bay, WI and moved to Virginia when I was 25. 6 years later I still get homesick. Not so much for the city, but more for the food. Sometimes I just NEED to go home.

  31. I left home at nineteen because I was sick of the routine. 30 days later I was in a panic and had to go home to relieve my sickness. Unlike a cold there is a home remedy for Homesickness. Great post.

  32. Great, great, great post. Currently, I´m teaching in Chile, so while my family and friends from the Pacific Northwest are going to their brewers´fests, heading to the beach, and spending their days lazing in the long-forgotten sun, I´m shivering in my classes because there´s no indoor heating here. You´ve certainly hit the nail on the head here. All I want is to be a part of every day things again, to celebrate the return of summer and feel like I´m “home.”

    I´d also really like to return to a keyboard that made sense to me.

  33. Wonderful post! Just happened to stumble upon your blog when it was featured on the WordPress home page – so glad that I did! As an Expat in Nicaragua, I can relate on so many levels! Looking forward to reading more.
    ~Sarah

  34. I second the homesickness for Mexican food whilst anywhere not in North America! Now that is an ache that is hard to cure. At some level, I perversely like the pangs of homesickness — they remind me of the blessings in my life to be thankful for, and of the courage it takes to make life your own journey.

  35. Poignant post, though it makes me feel afraid as I enter year two as an expat in Hong Kong. I do have to say that you can always find a way to make yourself at home, but I guess at the same time, there is no place like home.

  36. I’ve been living the expat life for almost 5 years now. In London, the homesickness didn’t hit me so much because my mind was constantly occupied. Now, I’m living in rural Colombia and sometimes there’s no pulling away from the aches and pains of homesickness that hit during mucho downtime. Great post. I enjoyed reading.

  37. This post definitely resonates with me right now. I actually live in New York right now in West Village. Moved there from California last year, and I’m seriously missing California… a LOT. These tips are perfect for me🙂

  38. Pingback: On Homesickness | Travel to Kelantan

  39. I am in New York right now (yes, went to the Pride Parade, yes, know the beach, yes love Bryant Park and will def check out their movie nights) and have been homesick badly for my small 60-inhabitants-village in Germany! It’s weird but you are so right when you say there is no predicting and avoiding it. I was fine for almost one year and then homesickness hit me nastily in January of this year… sigh I guess I made it through, but I feel like I am not the same I was before. I will go back to visit Deutschland in September again but of course I think of what there is to do during those nice German summers. But trust me, as soon as I leave the City, I will be missing New York! Once your heart is lost it will never return!
    Cheers to you, I hope you will make it through your homesickness as well.

  40. I just moved from Southern Oregon to Washington DC. I’ve only been here for a couple of weeks and luckily no homesickness yet. There’s too much newness and excitement here, especially as I focus on my new job. But what you described is what I’ve been dreading. That moment that just hits me and floors me and makes me want to say “screw it, being away from home is not worth it,”

    Great advice. I appreciate your take on the feeling. I am going to favorite this post so I can come back to it if and when I finally get that pain of homesickness.

    Thank you.

  41. “It’s dangerous to mistake nostalgia for homesickness. You can’t bring back the past, even if you go back to the physical place.”

    There’s no sensation quite like wandering around the town where you grew up, feeling like a visible ghost.

  42. I’m a tri-citizen who gets more and more muddled: British parents/childhood, American upbringing/school years, then Canadian adulthood. I like to explain the intense longing as a need to re-charge my (insert country here) batteries.

    Sometimes it’s a glimpse of a photo or the way a street smells that leaves you desperately wishing you could satisfy the country-craving. Sigh. The teleporting machine suggestion was spot-on!

    Thanks for sharing!

  43. The only things I missed about America during my 2003-2007 exile:

    Chain drugstore prices, e.g. having to pay fifty cents an aspirin in an Italian farmacia;

    The inventiveness of American chefs vis-a-vis the conformity of the Sicilian restaurant menus, e.g. every restaurant had scallopine con marsala, scallopine con limone, scallopine con vino bianco, scallopine con va f’an gu. 🙂

    Everytime I saw an American flag on TV, it had Bush or Cheney in front of it, and gave me a feeling of revulsion.

  44. I love the metaphor that you have for what being homesick is like, it definitely is that kind of ache, like almost like a sickness. I’m glad to hear that you’ve kicked your homesickness and that you feel better now!

  45. I moved from the midwest, in the country, to Dallas, and I could never live back home again… and most of the time when I go there, all I can think about is how grey the roads and the buildings and the sky and the fields are.. but then there’s sometimes…
    When my siblings talk about being out at the local bar (which I didn’t even really like going to when I lived there) with my cousins, or sometimes when I think about some of the things my dad and I used to talk about, or when someone here says something that makes it absolutely clear that it is beyond their understanding that life could be so different there and they believe subconsciously that every place is like here..

    I sometimes get that weird wave of homesickness. And then I drive through the city, and I remember, that when I was young I would sit under the interstate and watch the lights of cars passing by and wish I was one of them. And even when I’m lonely or broke or my career is in the toilet, the thought that I am one of those moving lights on the overpass- that I came here, and now it belongs to me – washes away the homesickness and brings back the thrill of the place I ran away to.

  46. Pingback: On Homesickness | Travel to Johor

  47. Thanks for this post. I’m from New York, currently living in India, and your description puts words to my feelings.
    I would love to share some of your words on my blog as well – if that’s ok with you.

  48. I can’t stop watching “The Chicago Code” and almost crying every time a city bus goes by! A lot of the scenes are shot inside Skylark, the Pilsen bar closest to my long-time apartment. It’s torture watching it from 15,000 kms away but it reminds me of how much I love my hometown.

  49. Totally. I find it so frustrating when it just sneaks up on you, and even more frustrating when I get homesick for the parts that I hated about living in Canada. Where’s the logic in that?

  50. This was a very apt post for me having just moved to Indianapolis (from the UK). There are lots of things that can triger homesickness. For me, it is simple things like seeing my imported pot of Marmite. As well as , and I can’t believe I would ever have missed this, English weather! It is lovely when it is warm, however it can be a bit too warm and humid here.
    However, I just concentrate on all the amazing things over here and I get over my bouts of homesickness.

    Additionally, I love Montpellier and hope you remain happy here. The South of France is a beautiful part of the world.

    Thank you for this post.
    Lucy
    http://lhgardener1988.wordpress.com/

    • I don’t think you need to leave your country to have homesickness. It can happen under a variety of circumstances!

  51. I was just in Italy, and I know exactly what you mean! I found myself missing the strangest things about the US that I didn’t realize I took for granted…totally different things from what I missed when I lived abroad in the Philippines last fall.

    Great job with this post! I’ll definitely be checking back to read more!

  52. So I have a cure for homesickness, but I’m not sure it would work for everyone (or that you’d want it to…) I moved around a lot when I was growing up. I married a wonderful woman who was in the RAF, so we moved every two years, and when we were done with military life, we moved to Vancouver. We’ve moved twice since getting here, and I think we’re done now. We went back to the UK for the first time in two years recently, and while it was nice to see the folks who haven’t been out to see us, while it was fun to see “old stuff” like the Avebury Ring and Worcester Cathedral, I didn’t feel it was home. The UK is one place I’ve lived, but there is no “house where I grew up”,or hometown to go back to.

    But you wrote so beautifully and expressively, I understand how YOU feel about this, and you have my sympathy (to a limited extent: Rome! Wow! I had a wonderful three day honeymoon there. LOTS of old stuff!) and sincerely hope you continue to balance experience with sentiment

  53. Thanks for sharing your feelings – as I can see many of your readers are glad you did too because it is spot on! I just wrote a post about moving to another country and finding a job (pls check it out if you have time) so I also know the feeling of homesickness, culture shock and all those things you mentioned in your blog, particularly, the dot points.

    Most of my friends have never moved to another place before so its hard for them to understand where I’m coming from. So to be able to feel the same feelings with you and other readers on your blog makes me feel normal – that I am not alone on this journey abroad. Thank you sincerely.

  54. What a great post! And perfectly timed for me as I was feeling super homesick last night, and I agree it just sort of hits you out of the blue. And you’re right, I need to start focusing again on my life here.

    Also I loved the video. I’d never heard that version before. It’s very powerful.

  55. Possibly my favorite thing you have ever written. And it made me miss you and NYC and CMSP and rats on Suffolk Street and, well, I should stop. It hurts.

  56. I’m so glad this post came up on freshly pressed! I was missing home the other day, and while I don’t think it was homesickness, it’s comforting in some way to know there are so many people missing the same thing!

  57. uuuuugh, homesickness is sooooo painful. Man, it’s so strange. I experienced it for the first time when I was 20. It made me weep. I was so confused hahaha

  58. After almost 17 years on this side of the pond, I rarely feel true homesickness anymore for the states except….and it’s a big except….when I imagine stepping off a bus or a train and I am in Grand Central or Penn station and I have to consciously remind myself: now, why is it I don’t live there anymore? New York doesn’t satisfy many of my needs really – I need my own plants and nature and room and space and many other things that New York has trouble offering other than to a chosen few – but it’s the one place I will say if someone would ask me “so where do you think you really belong?” It feels delusional to say this since I live on a hill in Italy and someone actually tweeted me that she would give up specific body parts to be able to live on a hill in Italy. I’m not complaining. Life is what we make of it. I just miss New York. Hard and often.

    Your post brought out unexpected emotions. xo

    • WOW, yes! Picturing myself standing up on the balcony at Grand Central, and watching everyone. Never mind the fact that when I have to cut through Grand Central, I want to murder someone because I can’t walk hardly at all without two-stepping with at least a dozen people. I get you 100%.

  59. Pingback: Homesickness in Reverse « communicating.across.boundaries

  60. After two years of being away from home at college, I found that the beautiful aspects of my hometown were coming back to haunt me, much like articulated in your post… Your positivity to remain calm and collect, though, is wise..

  61. I will spend more time in a response to this … because it deserves time. Meanwhile however I wish to thank you for reminding me that in my heartache (since my last child left home to live in Brazil) I not alone. Also there are ways to alleviate some of the pain thanks to the internet and honesty!

  62. Ahh, homesickness. I thought it was great how you detailed what homesickness is not; it is easy to mix up the emotions for those of nostalgia or the like.

    More often than I miss people or physical things, it’s the knowing how to navigate the culture that can leave me missing the familiar.

  63. I read this post last year and liked it. But re-reading it now my eyes filled with tears. Great writing Christine!

  64. Does anyone know the sensation of actually not being homesick after the country you were born and grew up in – but after the countries you lived in for a few years of your life? I missed Beijing so much and am pretty sure I’ll have difficulty leaving Montreal once my time here is over!

  65. Sorry if i have posted here already. This is not a spam. I’m just chasing dealines, but nonetheless i’m delighted I came across your site. It is lovely and interesting. I was wondering if you or any of your readers can give me some advice about recruitment in Italy. I’m working for a company that is looking to expand into Rome and Milan and was wondering if anyone had any advice on the best places to advertise locally. We are looking for English speaking businessmanagers so any advice would be greatly appreciated. We’ve advertised on Linkedin and Monster.com but haven’t had much luck attracting the right applicants

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