I have been living abroad for a little over six and a half years now, and I am still very confused at to what “Homesickness” is. This is a feeling that I have personally never experienced, but have seen its effect on others. When I asked them about their feelings, I have always gotten different answers. Have I felt homesickness and just been oblivious to what it was, or I am a just a different breed for person that does not experience this particular feeling?
From my experience as working as an English teacher in South Korea, I have seen many teachers pull what we infamously call the “Midnight Run”. This is when, out of the blue, a teacher does not show up to work because they have, without notice, hopped on the first flight they could find back to their home. Other teachers have been a bit more courteous and given us a bit of notice of their intentions to end their contract prematurely and return to their country of origin, which was always appreciated because it gave us time to find a replacement for them.
When I asked these teachers the reason they felt the need to leave, their answers were quite varied, but they generally stated that they were homesick. Some missed their family and friends, others could not handle the culture shock, others were intimidated by the language barrier, a few simply stated that they HATED it in Korea, and there were even some that faked the death of family members in order to make a quick exit from the country.
Like I stated previously, I have been living and traveling abroad for quite a long time now, and I have never experienced anything even relatively close to what I imagine homesickness to be. I of course miss my family from time to time, but I either message them, call them, or plan a trip to see them. I have seen my family, in person, almost each year since I decided to start a new life outside of my home country of America. After my first year in Korea, I returned to Texas and stayed a month with my family before I returned and started working at a new company. The next year my family rented a beach house for a week in Panama City Beach, Florida, and I there was no way I was going to turn down that invite. The next year I planned to meet my mom in Italy for a two week tour. The first week we visited Milan, Venice, and Florence together, and then my younger brother and sister met us in Rome. The four of us toured Rome, Pompeii, and ended our trip on the majestically beautiful Isle of Capri. It was by far the best trip I have ever had with my family, and I am so glad that we got to have that experience together. Sadly, my dad was unable to make it. His hip is a bit goosey, and he feared that he would not be able to handle all of the walking that we were planning on doing. The following year was the only year I did not see my family, but I made up for it this past Christmas. I had not had a real Christmas since I had left America, and I longed to sit around with my family, have Christmas dinner, open presents, and just spend quality time with them. So I booked tickets and texted my mom a picture of my flight confirmation. She was ecstatic that I was coming home for the holidays, and it was while I was there that I officially made my decision to leave Korea at the end of my contract and just travel and let life lead me whenever I should be next.
I was sitting at dinner the other night, in Milan, thinking about how at home I felt in Italy. Then I thought about how that was the exact feeling I had the day I arrived in Korea many years ago. I have always felt very at ease in every country that I have visited. Perhaps I am a nomad at heart, and my home is wherever I decide to make it, or maybe I am just truly special and I am incapable of feeling homesickness. Friends and family have always said how brave I am to have left my home and gone across the planet by myself. Honestly I have never felt brave, and I have never felt alone. I was just doing what I felt was right for me in the moment, and I knew that my family stood behind my decision to follow my own unique path in life.
So in conclusion, homesickness is a mystery to me. I have no clue what it is or why it happens. However, I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Have you experienced it? Do you know someone who has? How did it feel? What did you do when you felt it? Do you have tips for others that you would like to share in order to combat those feels? Or are you like me? Leave me comments below; I would love to discuss this further with you all.