Episode 11: Homesickness

Here is an interesting short story from an anonymous sender about missing family, missing friends, missing home.

TRANSCRIPT

You can read the transcript below.

It was the middle of the afternoon on a weekday. Not having an office job I was at home, on the couch, still in my pajamas. I was in a text conversation with a friend I had met when I had first moved to this country and the topic of politician’s careers came up. I told him that one of our past presidents used to be a peanut farmer. 

“Impossible” he said, “how could a peanut farmer become the president of America?”

Not being that well versed in even my own country’s politics, I just texted back, “American Dream question mark?”

I rarely get homesick, and I’d feel comfortable saying most expats like living in their new country well enough…after all, why would they leave. However after that conversation I really really wanted a PB&J. The classic American lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiched between two pieces of over-sweetened white bread. Far from a culinary masterpiece, yet it always invokes good childhood memories.

I guess I should feel lucky that in this globalized world, peanut butter isn’t the rarity it used to be with one brand, a few jars, hidden on a back shelf of an import market in central Europe. Aldi exists and their peanut butter isn’t half bad. 

It was the first time in nearly 7 years of living abroad I truly experienced homesickness. Sure there were cravings now and again, especially within the first six months of moving out of the USA, but this time made me actually reflect. A bit stupid really, all because of a PB&J craving. 

Am I ever going to go back to America? 

How long can my consulting job really last?

Is it a real career? 

Am I going to have kids and raise them in Europe? 

Is there really anything wrong with that?

Being an expat living an ocean away from my family I miss out on a lot of things, birthdays, weddings, rarely funerals if I can help it. My family doesn’t visit me nearly as much as they said they would, but I guess I don’t fly back as much as I should. 

On the flipside I’ve opened my eyes to the world. I can take weekend trips to other countries for the price of a tank of gas. I’ve met people I consider to be amazing friends I otherwise would not have met. I’ve learned a new language. 

Yes, homesickness is a real thing that affects all expats. However it is not depression. You don’t have to let homesickness take over your mental health. It’s just nostalgia at the end of the day, looking back on your past with rose colored glasses. 

I don’t know what the future holds for me. Will I permanently settle down here, start a family? Or will I go back to America?

For now I enjoy my life here far more than the occasional bout of homesickness.

So I went and got the ingredients to make myself a PB&J. And you know what? It tasted just as good as I remembered. But it wasn’t made by my mother, and I didn’t cut it in diagonals, and I didn’t get to go outside after to play with my dog. 

I did take a shower, put on some nice clothes, and went to a local bar for a birthday get-together with my “here friends” my “here family” 

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2 Comments

  1. Nasim
    July 7, 2019
    Reply

    this episode was one of the best chitchat shows episode which i have ever heard. Actually i gonna travel abroad for my master degree sooner or later, and sometimes i have taught about my future and homesickness .
    fortunately anonymous sender could overcome all of that feelings, i’m really looking forward to be as strong as her/him.

    • expatchitchat
      July 17, 2019
      Reply

      Wow thanks so much for the compliment. I am so happy when our listeners enjoy the content (even if this one was submitted to us) 🙂

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