We know that an inevitable part of moving countries is that you tend to miss the old one at times. Our Digital Marketing Intern, Josefine, is sharing her experiences with homesickness on our blog.
Today is one of those days where the sun actually peaks out, I got my cup of coffee and I feel appreciative of the chances, I’ve been handed in life. On this particular day, I do not feel homesick.
Let’s dwell on the name for a bit – homesick. It is a bold statement as well to say that you are homesick. Have I ever felt sick from longing for my home? No. Luckily, I haven’t.
Have I ever got that feeling of longing after the more familiar, the friends I have known for years, hear my language being spoken around me, talk about those culture specific elements that seem so foreign to people here and take a walk by the harbour surrounding my city? Yes. Yes, I have longed for that.
Recently, I had an urge to pour my heart out in my own mother tongue. No matter how comfortable English has become to me, I still have those feelings that fail to translate. And I found myself appearing slightly simple. Slightly unable to fully tell you what I want, and thus show the full picture of me. In these cases, I feel powerless. I miss home.
And you can double the feeling of powerlessness whenever I meet someone who does not speak English, and as a result, our conversations are condensed to superficial small-talk that my basic Dutch skills allow me to have. Each time this occurs, I think
“this is not me. You do not get to know me. You get to know a very, very simple version of me, because I cannot communicate who I am”.
All in all, the feeling of missing home creeps up on me, when I realize how foreign everything is. How much outside of my comfort-zone, I am. I turn on the TV, and a Flemish show is playing. I do my groceries, and I cannot find the things I use to buy, let alone can I understand what the signs actually mean, I see the look in people’s eyes when they have been talking to me for half a minute and I say “sorry, I do not speak Dutch”, and they just give up. Something so simple as going on a nightly snack-patrol to get liquorice, and it’s not there.
This is in no way meant to be a pitty party though. I realize how lucky I am to be welcomed in another country, to grow my network here, and to expand my horizon. But I think every single person long for familiarity and comfort, whether they achieve that by the food they eat, the weather they know, the national music on the radio or the people that surround them. And when you no longer have that, you have to reinvent. Start from scratch.
And with that, I have found myself again and again at cross-roads between curiosity and powerlessness.
Some of the things that have helped me when I missed home, was to find myself a community that reminded me of home. Meeting up with people with similar interests, becoming a member of a Facebook group for Danes (like I am), watching a Danish show that I used to watch at home or singing along loudly to Danish songs that remind me of my teenage years. One of the coming days, I think I will bake a ryebread or make æbleskiver just to get that sweet smell and familiar taste of home.
There are many reasons for why people leave their home nowadays, some might do it voluntarily, some might have found their dream job abroad, and some might have to because of unfortunate and devastating circumstances.
We might be away for longer or shorter periods, we might struggle with different cultural differences coming here, we might miss our own friends, family, food, music, shows, sports, holy place – you name it. But we are all facing something unfamiliar, and we are all trying to integrate. I urge all people in this situation to reach out to each other and to talk to each other.
Talk about what they miss from home and what they love about their new place.
If you find any of these feelings to be familiar to you, we would love to know. You can always reach out to us, or leave your comments below.
P.s. you might want to check out other blog posts on the challenges of expatriation written beautifully by Maja Meglic.