Make no mistake about it, I absolutely love living in Ireland! There is truly no place as beautiful as this island. Yet I still suffer from occasional bouts of homesickness. From time to time, I pine for the place that I call “home.” I dream of the scenes, the smells, the faces that I have been far away from. I begin to feel lonely…and disconnected from both the place I miss and the place where I presently live.
Here are a few things that I have done to cure my occasional bouts of homesickness.
They are simple remedies. But hey, they have worked for me. Maybe when you experience similar feelings of disconnectedness, they will help you too:
5) Turn on some CAKE BOSS. Okay, let me explain. One of the things I miss since being away from my home in New Jersey, is hearing that glorious “Jersey” accent. I know, I’m weird. Sometimes, if I can’t get my mom on Skype, I’ll turn on Netflix and put on a little Cake Boss. That “Jersey accent” soundtrack ministers to my aching heart. A friend of mine, who is from the South, puts on a little country music even though she hates country music. Another American friend of mine, who is living abroad, watched the Super Bowl for the first time ever, just to feel connected to the States. It sounds weird but I have found that it has helped.
4) Host a dinner party that features a menu of your favourite dishes back home. I cannot put into words how desperately I miss good ol’ Italian-American food from my Jersey ‘hood. When someone even mentions the word, “cannoli,” a tear immediately forms in the corner of my eye. When I start to long for home, I will call a couple friends over and host a night of Italian-American dishes! A friend from Texas did the same and invited me over for some delicious Tamales! Not only is this an opportunity to recapture your own culture, but it’s a fantastic way to share your culture with others!
3) Find another “non-local” and become friends! My friend Lauri is from the West Coast. She and her family live just around the corner from our family here in Ireland. She gets the whole “homesickness” thing too. One of the cool things about being “non-locals” together is that we feel comfortable sharing about what is happening back home.
It can feel isolating when you are living in a place where no one around you knows any of your family or friends. Who do you tell when your little brother just went on his first date or when your bestie landed her dream job? Lauri and I keep each other updated on the fun little happenings of home. She tells me when her sister got a new haircut. I tell her what schools my sister is applying too. We celebrate together when we can’t celebrate with folks back home. I found Lauri to be an invaluable friend to me during this time living abroad. When things are hard back home, and we feel like we can’t be there for our friends and family, as we would like, we at least have each other to chat and pray about our family happenings.
2) Initiate contact. One of the things that is so easy to feel when living away from home is… well... forgotten. It’s amazing how “left out” you can feel after scanning through photos of family and friends on Facebook and Instagram. The world back home seems like it is doing perfectly fine without me and yet I can be falling to pieces because I am without it. To fight feelings of bitterness or abandonment, I initiate contact first. I don’t wait to be remembered. It’s not that people are intentionally forgetting about me but there is some truth within that phrase, “Out of sight, out of mind.” A simple email or Skype call can make me feel reconnected to home.
1) Make a home where you are. The truth is that if all I ever think about is “being back home,” I’ll never really feel at home where I am. Over the last few years, I have made it a point to engage the culture and traditions of Ireland/Northern Ireland. Our family attends events and festivals that happen here. We intentionally try to learn the history of where we live and experience the food and customs of this amazing island. Above all, we make friends with the people here. We take the time to have “craic” with them (“craic” means “fun” by the way’). We invite them to our house for American-style BBQs and we go to their homes for “Irish Stew.” You can never replace home, but I believe that wherever you are, you can make “home” as sweet as you want it to be.
Perhaps you are feeling a little homesick or lonely today…whether you’re far from home or not. Try out some of my tips mentioned above to cure your longing heart. Maybe you have your own remedies for homesickness that you use. Please share them with us!
Noelle Rhodes is married to her best friend, Troy, and 'mama' to two of the most hilarious human beings to exist: Silas and Olive Pearl. She and her family reside in Derry/Londonerry, Northern Ireland, as missionaries. When she is not wrangling her children or beating her husband in a game of Scrabble, you would probably find her doing laundry. Noelle blogs at Coffee with Noelle.