Considering how much of a home bird I was before college, I’m quite proud of how long I’ve stayed here without a trip home to Ireland. I had every opportunity to go home, but I kept reminding myself of all the trips I had planned. Booking ten days off to go home is ten days less time off you have to travel. If you can manage to keep the homesickness at bay, it’s worth it and I’m sure it will make visiting home a much bigger treat the longer I leave it. A lot of people I know aren’t the home sick type, but if you’re away right now feeling a little lonely or you’re thinking of moving abroad, I hope this helps.
Home sickness comes and goes. I obviously felt it the most during my first few months away. It’s knowing that you can’t go home for a long while and the sheer effort of traveling all the way back is a nightmare itself. Okay, so it’s not all that far but I was afraid that if I went home too soon when I was still a little homesick, I’d find it harder to come back. I tried to keep busy, not allowing myself the opportunity to feel lonely or vulnerable. I’m a busy person anyway so this wasn’t difficult, but rainy days off and hangovers got the better of me sometimes. It’s imagining lazing about on the couch with Mam yelling out asking me to take the clothes off the washing line and the sound of Dad returning home from work. I have to remind myself that the majority of my friends are not at home anymore, my parents would be working all day and there’s not much to do in Clonmel other than go for pretty walks in the countryside. Yep, I don’t need to visit home just yet.
Living abroad definitely makes you a stronger person. On my first week here, I remember chatting to a girl from Roscommon who had been here for two years without going home. I thought the concept was bizarre at the time, I couldn’t imagine being away for more than six months without seeing my family. Surely she hadn’t got a great relationship with her parents? She told me she was never really a home bird and although she misses her family from time to time, it’s not enough to make her go back and visit. I’m a year here now and I don’t find this so shocking anymore. I myself haven’t been home since I left. Although my parents did visit in April, I haven’t seen my Grandmother or my brothers. Some people just don’t get upset over these things but for those who do, if you want to stay abroad for as long as you can, you need to learn how to push the feelings aside. Time away from family is so terrifying during your first 6 months but once you get through it, you don’t think about it anymore. I know that if I were to walk through my front door in Clonmel or walk through the town itself right now, I would’t feel like I’ve been away at all. Nothing will have changed except me.
I had originally booked flights home for Christmas. No way was I spending the holidays away from my family, are you nuts? We all had that idea in our heads. Of course, I ended up staying here and for several reasons. The first being, I had only just got here and wasn’t fully settled in. Going home that soon would just be confusing. My housemates had decided to stay put too so it made it so much easier making plans for Christmas Day together and having a real New York Christmas. This is the best place to be at Christmas time of course, the city is so vibrant and the atmosphere is magical. This city is full of Irish people so all you need to do is remember that we’re all in it together. Spend some time over the holidays in and out of Irish bars and you’ll feel right at home. Christmas Day itself wasn’t all that bad. I FaceTimed my parents in the morning, we opened our presents and my roommates and I had Christmas dinner in Queens before a walk through Central Park. It’s just a day after all.
I knew Christmas would be the worst of it, but at the start of the summer, my three roommates each went home for a week. Watching their Snapchats and then hearing about their time at home was a little tough. I tried putting the homesickness to the back of my mind but sometimes I would find myself in a bad mood or eating everything around me. It would take a lengthy FaceTime with a couple of my best friends back home to feel alright again. It helps to talk it out because you force yourself to really think about where you are and why you came here. My advice in those situations is to take a few minutes to mull it over in your head. Do you miss home enough to leave New York behind (or wherever it is you are)? If your first thoughts are “nope, absolutely not” then the feeling will pass once you occupy your mind. Maybe you’re just not ready to make such a drastic move (I was a big baby when I lived California). If not, you might just find yourself making plans to return home and that’s okay too.
I really do love Ireland and the people there so I am excited to go home, but I’m not quite finished here yet. Who knows, I might not live in Ireland for five or ten years or maybe even ever (but I’m not ready to say that out loud). Homesickness will always be lurking around because it’s who I am but it’s not a major problem for me right now and that’s a relief.
What I do know is that when I go home, Fat Cat will not give two flying sh*ts.
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