Saturday, March 11, 2006

In my desperation I actually googled "Curing Homesickness"

UPDATE 27/11/2007
I'm still getting lots of hits and traffic to this particular post even now, so I thought I'd leave an update on this page.

I spent a long time working through homesickness and other issues of careers and geography, some of which are summarized here and here .

But this is pretty much where I am now with the whole homesickness/expat acceptance thing. Good luck to anyone who gets here by googling "homesickness" themselves. I know how tough it can be.

And found this. I´ve been doing it pretty tough recently and homesickness has been a major factor - though if it´s the cause or effect I´m really not sure. I know I feel horrifically trapped here. DrH is happy here - he has his job, his friends, his family, his culture. His attempts to compromise in this relationship, like doing the majority of the travelling between Hamburg and Berlin, though are but a meager sacrifice in terms of what I give up on a daily basis for this relationship to continue. I can´t keep waiting for him to decide he´s ready to leave. I need to go now.

Six years is enough already.

That article was good. It voiced everything I feel in a way which didn´t include me sobbing uncontrollably in the corner of the couch. That always make it difficult for people to understand or sympathise. Especially those who´ve never been away from their own culture for longer than 4 weeks - sorry but you guys haven´t a clue where I´m coming from so don´t even think of giving me advice or telling me how good I´ve got it with a husband like DrH. Ok?

I really liked:

In yet another way homesickness has elements of a virus. It lies dormant for periods of time and then, quite unexpectedly, strikes, causes pain, and then retreats until the next time.

True. My bouts are coming more and more frequently though. I´m afraid I may need surgical intervention. My theory is that there is a homesickness organ which is directly affected by this virus. It probably only develops in expats who have spent a longer period exposed to foreign substances. My indepth analysis of the symptoms suggest that the organ is located in the upper chest cavity as marked in Figure 1. I further propose that this organ creates direct nerve connections to the tear ducts and hiccup mechanism.

Figure 1. Chest cavity. Location of proposed homesickness organ marked by a red arrow.

But it was this passage that fully describes WHERE I am:

The lived time of homesickness is a special mode of time. It is a futureless experience of time. We cannot envisage a future in a place which is so unfamiliar; we have lost the future of home and now are living time differently. It is truly a marking-time of time; just as soldiers mark time and go nowhere as they wait for time to move forward, the lived time of homesickness seems to hover in that momentary pause as each leg is held in the air in anticipation of its return to earth. The sense of not knowing when we are going to move forward can indeed be sickening because the lived present of everyday life has a future which comes to meet us in the present

While this is how I´ve lived for years now it offers really no hope for my future:

Can it be controlled? In one sense, definitely not. All the stories of homesickness tell of its dominance. It descends unexpectedly. It can take one unawares, and when in the grip of homesickness one has to succumb to it. It is not within our power to control its arrival. However, as we all learn to live with the flu virus and do our best to keep it at bay, so we can learn to manage homesickness. For a time we have to give in to homesickness and let it run its course through our bodies. We may go to a quiet place and cry for a while, or we may take out photographs and indulge ourselves in feeling sad. These strategies seem to play a necessary part in cleansing ourselves of the ailment. Then we can move on, move forward. We can keep ourselves busy with work and social events; we can try new activities. We can arrange our lives to avoid the loneliness that is often inviting to the homesickness bug....It is not likely that a cure exists; however, homesickness is a condition that each person must cope with in his or her own way. It seems that it can go into remission. Yet there is no definitive numerical value for when remission can be termed cure.

The worst part of all is that I know that even if I get to Australia, I´ll end up being homesick for here. There are now parts of Australian life that drive me barmy and I´m not sure I can handle it if my dream falls flat. What if going home disappoints me more? I have such high expectations I don´t think any place can live up to them.

I need a way to spend half a year here, half a year there.

I think that´s the only solution.

Where´s my frequent flyer card...............


JB said...

Indeed, homesickness seems to be hard to handle! Where is the win win solution?

Dr J. said...

Exactly. 15000km distance means win-win is a no-no. If by some freak of event you find one, let me know..........

Claire said...

Oh - homesickness can be bad. I tend to get it only around American holidays, especially the 4th of July. I found that in the past year my bouts have decreased and I realized that it is because I finally came to terms that Germany is now my home. I will never move back to the States. My German won't go and I love him too much. I know about 5 other Americans around here and a few Brits. We are all here because of men. One good thing is that you are in Berlin. I read that there is a movie theater that plays only movies in the original English. In our corner of Germany the only thing to do is go out and talk to the cows, and some how I don't think they really get what I am trying to say.

Dr J. said...

In between I was better - from years 1 to 3 I had very little homesickness, 4 and 5 a bit more and the 6th was a doozy. I also came to germany expecting to leave after 3 years and I refuse to live here forever. Maybe we could move to Spain for a few years?

There´s a couple of big movie theatres here that play everything in English and German-dubbed versions, and a number of small original version only theatres. there´s also an English only live theatre called Friends of the Italian Opera.

JB said...

Spain would be great, somewhere near a beach!!! Barcelona for example. Or Montpellier in France, awesome! Your kids would be trilingual and your friends & relatives would show up regularly for holidays ...

Anonymous said...

I've been away for such a long time. I left my parents at the age of 17 for the Army (US). I have always missed them. But my wife came along and our children, we have been married 24 years in October 2007. I am working a contract job 250 miles away. I miss my wife, it cuts my heart out. I hate laying down at night and trying to go to sleep, we talk on the phone every evening, but I need to be home, in my home with my wife, son, pets and Our daughter just 12 miles away. Instead I am alone, tears mostly inside except during my time at night.

The idiot in the apartment above is no help. His loud music, his stomping on the floor.

My laptop which is my friend while traveling recently died, emergency parts are on the way. It has been dead for a week.

I was a soldier in Basic Training at 17 yrs. at 18 yrs I was in Germany ready to fight to my death, and prayed for it everynight a war or just a skirmish to get rid of the heartbreak.

I don't know the cure, I've been torne so many years. Both of my parents are ailing and nearing death, but I can't get home to visit them because of my obligations.

Since I have been away:
My Grandfather died the day I was on my way back to the states from germany.

My grandmother died

My father in law died

my favorite child hood cousin died of breast cancer.

Another cousin recently had massive strokes, I have not been able to visit him.

Being homesick is like being in hell, I crave the people and the hills of my native souther ohio. The most beautiful place on the earth and the most unemployment on the earth.

Everytime, I move to another project I miss the people that I have grown close to. Today a coworker was scooped from our Engineering group. I've only known him for 7 weeks, but when everyone is away from home, people bond faster. I suppose in a few days the one to my left may be gone, and this Indian will end up being the LONE RANGER. I have worked with over 100 different Engineers over the last 2 years all of which are just memories. This makes home sick even worse, not being able to build any lasting friendships.


Anonymous said...

Funny thing is, I found THIS page by googling "curing homesickness"!

I'm a Canadian, and lived in Amsterdam for 19 years with my Dutch partner, before I (and he with me) moved back to Canada. It was a thrill to be back, but after three years, I think I now have figured out what the homesickness was, and I could comfortably move back to Amsterdam.

Homesickness is like that smell which reminds you of something when you were a child, or the favourite song, which instantly takes you back to a place and time. It's a melancholy illusion, when you're trying to just belong somewhere. Trying to belong, trying to be accepted, trying to have someone's approval - feeling so small out in that big world, away from 'home'.

Coming back to Canada has helped me to finally figure it out, get it in perspective, and let it go. I'm just really fortunate my partner was willing to make such a big move at this point in his career.

Hey, Dr. J., I hope you figure it out too. All the very best.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm an Australian expat living in Dubai in the UAE.

I found your post after googling "A cure for homesickness"!

I moved here about 4 months ago and in the past month I've been incredibly homesick and can relate to any part of this post.
Thanks for sharing all the info, It was an interesting read :)

I really did not understand how great Australia was until living here and I can't wait to go back!

I hope everything goes well with yourself :)

Anonymous said...

Living away is a pain in the arse, just keep yourself busy, i find that its at night and in quiet you get homesick, just push through and block the thoughts of home.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Aussie Expat in Dubai

I think I can sum up my experience after 9 months here


This is hell.

Interesting read though, And I can especially relate to the virus bit- i mean, just a few hours ago, I felt fine..until now that is...

I miss Canberra, Kath n Kim and 6 a.m strolls to woolies in my uggs (often done to satisfy my cravings).

Claudia said...

I'm so incredibly homesick at the moment. Met the love of my life 2 years ago just before I was about to return to NZ after living in the UK for 4 years already. He has kids from a previous marriage so can't leave here until they are finished school....which is another 15 years. I thought I would be ok, but I've already been here 6.5 years and am stuggling to accept living here longer. I love my partner more than anything but I am miserable without my family with whom I'm incredibly close too. Currently I see them once a year for 2 weeks due to the cost and it being over 18,000kms away! All I seem to do at the moment is cry. I feel like my life has no direction anymore. We are thinking about starting a family soon but I'm scared as nearly all of my close friends have returned to NZ and will not have my family to help me out during the early years. By the time I return home I would have been away for almost 22 years!!!

I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. I am miserable here without my family and friends but I will be miserable there without my partner. I have some good days, but now that its winter and dark and cold all I want to do is just pack up my things and leave. I'm really just trying to keep myself busy, but as I think about home, I just get upset. I love my partner and we have a great relationship, but I still feel so alone over here.

It does make me feel better knowing that I'm not the only one feeling like this. x

Camille Acey said...

Thanks for this. It is a help to know there are other people suffering just like me. Shall we start a foundation that will seriously start looking for a cure?

Anonymous said...

Sad to see there are so many sad homesick people out there !
I glad I'm not the only guy on here. But it seems this homesickness hits everybody and anybody.
I thought I was a bit of a tough nut. Able to adjust to any problem.I'm married and we're trying for a family.
I can't even watch a BBC downloaded program on the computer without getting the homesick blues. I wish I'd never left England for Italy.
I don't care how safe and quite this place is anymore. Even if it why I left the UK for in the first place.
We all try to fight it one way or the other, but its no good. You just can't forget your real home.
Yeah and I never thought of it as a virus before.I wish one could get over this virus as easy as a cold ha ha ha.
Regards and I hope it all works out for us all.

Anonymous said...

"It is a futureless experience of time. We cannot envisage a future in a place which is so unfamiliar; we have lost the future of home and now are living time differently."

Thanks for summing up part of how I feel in Thailand right now. Shouldn't be like this when I live on a tropical island where the weather is never cold, but the reality is I work 6 days a week, 10 hours a day and my family and friends are 10,000 miles away and I have sacrificed the future of home ... for what???

The other side is I don't want to go back to the UK permanently, I like living in Thailand, but your quote seems to understand how I experience my days at the moment ... futureless

Anonymous said...

Just like everyone else I was googling homesickness and this post poped up... Im a Portuguese Expat living in Zurich for 5 months and in the last 2 weeks all I can think about is my hometown(Porto) and how much I miss being there... I know every little place; i know where I like to drink; score pot; I understand the people... In zurich everyone lives very well but that seems to strangely make them worst as human beings; or probably that's just me freaking out... People here are fake nice; very polite but if you fall and break your ankle they will walk by without so much as looking... People my age are so assholish and posh-wanna-be I fear I will never have the will to make any friendships. I miss the simplicity of my people and sometimes feel so guilty about trading my home for a swiss salary...
It's really hard to see the light right now; I'm just not fiting in and it doesnt matter how well i do financially if I'm unhappy with my surroundings