“If it were not for your guests all houses would be graves.” -Khalil Gibran, Sand and Foam

I have overestimated the effectiveness of skype for a long while now and have never been so frustrated with the expense of international travel.

I realized the other day that nearly every one of my fellow MA classmates have either:

a) had friends/family/significant others come to visit them or

b) gone home or wherever to visit friends/family/significant others.

This is not to say I’ve done badly nor have my friends/family/significant others, it’s more of larger point about living and studying abroad.

Homesickness and missing people is a real thing, which I don’t think gets said often enough nor taken with the seriousness that it deserves. Making new friends and new memories of new experiences is great and a crucial part of living elsewhere, especially abroad as it does significantly help with the above problem. But as part of my soul-searching, identity and mental health self-inquiry that I’ve been doing recently, I have come to the conclusion that I would have felt a lot better and dealt a lot better had I or my significant persons met physically somewhere. Skype just doesn’t cut it anymore. For a semester abroad, it works. And obviously this is all dependent on individual personalities etc, but seeing someone, hugging someone and spending time– short or long– goes a long way for most people living away for more than 4-6 months.

I come from a very close-knit nuclear family. I ‘moved out’ when I went away to college and for the past 6 years until I moved to the UK, I saw my family, generally speaking, every other weekend and spent nearly all my holidays at home. That’s a big change to the sometimes weekly 2 hr skypes I’ve had with my family since September. This is not like travelling. That’s a liminal state and the constant exposure to physical movement, new sights, smells, tastes, ideas and people keep at bay feelings of severe separation that accompany living abroad.

For most of my classmates, their significant people are either in the next city over or maybe a 2 hr plane ride away. Others have significant people who can afford to travel great distances or who are also living abroad from their home countries. For me, a return plane ticket to the midwest runs me £800 minimum. That’s not chump change. That’s a third of my travel/discretionary funds. While I can distract myself by visiting new places and visiting my extended family in Europe, which has helped IMMENSELY, I miss the conversations and contact of my parents and younger siblings that comes with geographical vicinity.

Basically, it’s important. So if you are living abroad or are planning on it, make room and funds for visits—of either direction or ones that meet in the middle somewhere. They make a huge difference in handling all the emotional and psychological situations of being an ex-pat.

Hopefully, this will be the last post where I whinge on about angsty, depressive and self-centred things. I’ve had a folder of potential topics and ideas to blog about and I think it’s time to tackle at least a few of them.

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