Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I can't speak for everyone living abroad, but there are some sights, sounds and tastes that induce homesickness, while there are other sights, sounds, tastes that relieve it. I'm not going to try to figure out why, but I thought the list might be interesting for my friends and family. Biggest Causes of Homesickness: 3. Pictures of Food – On the internet, on a menu at a restaurant (where the pictures are never what is actually for sale), in a really random picture hanging in someone's house – it doesn't really matter where, but pictures of waffles topped with ice cream, club sandwiches and crisp slices of dill pickles make me wish I were some place where food cravings can be instantaneously indulged. And I don't even like pickles or club sandwiches. 2. Holidays – Christmas, Thanksgiving, 4th of July, and, for me, especially Halloween are just things that should be done at home surrounded by family and friends who share the innate understanding that Reeses Eggs taste better than Reeses Trees and both are better than Reeses cups. 1. Facebook – Facebook is a blessing and an evil. Yes, with facebook you will always know what your family and friends are up to. You'll know who broke up with who and who got what new job. But most of this information will be completely disconnected from you and your life overseas. Your friends will talk about new restaurants that opened after you left or new people they met after you left, new babies that have been born. All of this would be fine, except that this information isn't directly transmitted to you. It's something you read about as an outsider. Facebook makes me feel disconnected from people while it taunts me with informational blurbs about their lives. It gives me a snippet of what life would be back if I were there, but just enough to remind me that I'm not there and that life has gone on uninterrupted without me. Best Homesickness Relief: 3. Comfort Food – Sometimes the best way to improve my mood is to spend several hours putting together a legitimate American meal. This could be pizza or a pot pie or chili, but it will be something that no restaurant in Mongolia does correctly. The act of cooking is very calming and the final meal makes me feel accomplished and satisfied. Other times a small treat is enough to lift my spirits, usually something from a package, and something that I cannot buy or make in Mongolia. Oreos and Nerds are great examples. Occasionally, just a simple grilled cheese sandwich and potato chips are enough to make me happy and content. 2. Letters from home – Unlike Facebook, letters are personalized. They are information sent directly from one person to another. They require effort and thought. When I get a letter from someone back home, I think about how that person was thinking about me enough to put aside time to tell me something about what is going on. Yes, all the things they talk about will still probably be unrelated to me, but the fact that my friend wants me to know about these things makes the connection between us stronger. For me, exchanging letters is the most meaningful way of keeping in touch with my family and friends back home. They make me feel like I'm still apart of what is going on (even when the letters arrive a month after their information is out of date). 1. Geographically Convenient Relationships – When you are having fun and being engaged in relationships in your new home, its difficult to feel sad about the friends you left behind. Or at least you have someone to talk it out with, and I believe that talking makes most all problems more manageable.

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