Probably not the most cringe/cheesy/OMG Kill Me Now Pls Facebook status I’ve ever published whilst intoxicated, but it’s definitely up there.
I wrote this a month into my stay in Granada. Pathetic as the title reads, I didn’t miss home per se; la vida Erasmus doesn’t allow it; there are just too many things to do and see, and in the first month I was completely lost to Spain and its way of life. There were only moments, I found, when visiting a place would stir a memory, or when things that seemed a little difficult abroad felt near enough impossible when compared to HOW EASY IT IS AT HOME. In coping with this feeling that cropped up from time-to-time, I found ways to avoid succumbing to total ‘GET ME ON A PLANE HOME NOW’ meltdown mode:
- DO NOT dwell on things that are better/easier/not as problematic at home. You are NOT at home; get accustomed to your new situation and deal with it.
- DO make yourself busy. You’re hardly going to be thinking of Friday night’s pub quiz or Mum’s roast dinner when on a beach or climbing a mountain, are you?
- DO NOT feel bad if you want to mope around. It is okay to spend a day in your cave of a room (mine had shutters that literally turned it pitch black), watching Disney movies and scoffing Pringles. Just don’t make it a habit. Give yourself a break, get it out of your system, and move on.
- DO try something different. Embrace your new surroundings and make it your goal to become part of where you are. Change yourself to settle into your new life better; you’ll probably find yourself doing that unintentionally anyway.
- DO stock up on plenty of teabags, or whatever your go-to comfort is.
- DO get productive; join a gym, find a tandem/intercambio partner, book a trip, or even do the readings for your next literature class. Doing something there will feel twice as much of an achievement and you’ll be too engrossed to miss home. Writing it all down will help too.
- DO find your local Irish pub, in my case, Paddy’s, a fine establishment in which this legendary status was written. It served as a home from home when Spanish culture became a bit too overwhelming. Tony the barman would keep the cocktails coming and the 80’s tunes playing, plus there was a cracking kebaby opposite.
- DO surround yourself with people who make you feel happy. Misery loves company and is a dangerous route to depression.
- DO avoid Skype, use SMS instead. I skyped my family a good amount while on my year abroad, but sometimes I was really lagging, especially at the beginning.
“SAM WHERE ARE YOU? ARE YOU STILL IN SPAIN? ARE YOU EATING?!” Genuine Mum response to the first video-call I had made in a while.
I tried to explain to them that the time to worry was not when I had gone A.W.O.L, but when I was constantly calling. In November my language had hit a plateau, my confidence was at an all-time-low and Uni was a big stinking pile of poo, not to mention the landlord was being an absolute *Insert preferred expletive here*. For this, Mum and Dad were being pestered by me 24/7 via Skype, email, text, and fax, had they owned a machine. Actually being able to see their worried faces through the computer screen made the feeling of homesickness so real, and the distance between us even greater. I don’t say stop video-calling altogether, just avoid it if it’s going to make you miss home more. And don’t forget to contact loved ones altogether; you may be busy, but they still need to know if you’re being fed and watered.
My Dad was the recipient of many “Sorry! Don’t worry, I’m still alive, just busy!” texts, and that was sufficient enough. To which he would reply:
“Glad you’re having a good time, we miss you, I’m in The Portrait.”
Missing out on a pint. Typical.