August 12, 2012

August 12: A homesickness appreciation post

As a Euro chick living in Australia I am sometimes confronted with homesickness. Yep, I know it's been around 3 years now that I have been living abroad but I always have and always will miss my family and friends, miss the taste of Austrian beer and the fresh glacier tap water. The list goes on.

As an Austrian I am part of a non-moving friendly culture (what a horrendous way to put this in words!). We don't want to move, we love our nest. And even though some of us might go to Vienna to study, most return and try to find a job in the area they grew up in. It's kind of like the bond between a person and a place is stronger where I come from than in Australia. I can hardly think of any of my friends and acquaintances down under who stayed in one house, one city or even one state since the beginning of their lives. It's a cultural phenomenon and in a way it's a charming and free-spirited one. Comparing that to back home, most of my friends or former classmates moved a max. of a 4 hr drive away to study, drink and do all the naughty things one can't or shouldn't do at home, but then are happy to return to Mum's warm nest every weekend or so, to eat the home cooked greatness and sleep in some fresh sheets.

Homesickness isn't necessarily a bad thing, it just means that you had a good time there! And hey, who wouldn't? It's your home after all, the place you spent years of  an innocent, naive and super optimistic childhood at, the years you turned into an absolute psychopath and started dating all the wrong boys/girls (maybe that was just me?), the years you got your first shitty underpaid jobs and dragged  yourself to school. There are a lot of memories connected to this place and of course you formed a special bond! BUT that doesn't mean you have to spend every year of your life there. Nostalgia is a good thing, obsessing over the past not so much. There are a lot of paths that lead to Rome and for all of you who chose to try living outside of your home country, good on you! The world is our oyster and we are here to explore! Bravery is a long lost attribute. Security is overrated. The end.

Oh no, wait up!
I am getting carried away here....

The point of this post here is the following: Homesickness is good, as long as it only makes you feel a little sad sometimes. If you wake up and miss everything you don't have and hate everything you have, you should probably consider going back to where you came from. Literally. So here are a few of my personal anti-homesickness tips and tricks:

1. Skype
I owe Skype Millions of emotional dollars.(Please don't ever claim!!!) Talking to my family and a handful of friends makes me feel so awesome and I LOVE catching up on all the things at home. I love me some real life gossip!! No, but seriously. Skype takes away the 15000 km and allows me to bitch and moan to Mum on a regular basis about life. It's great! I also love SKYPEING my Nanas, seeing their overwhelmed faces and having a laugh with them. Of course it doesn't bring me the real-life interaction that I sometimes miss, but in the end it makes me feel less left-out and more up-to-date with everyone's lives. Too lazy to sit in front of the computer at 10 pm? Just install Skype on your smartphone and you can talk to your overseas buddies from your couch!

2. Go to the deli
Food always gets me excited so even weeks before my little holiday, I am salivating at the thought of fresh rye bread, dumplings and the candy. OMG. Luckily enough there are lots of Delis around that sell imported foods. I don't get a lot of my much missed foods as most of it is dairy in some form, but if I can see a packet of Soletti somewhere, I won't walk past it. Also some amazing finds I have come across: Manner Wafferl (these are the hazelnut wafers as featured on tv show "Friends"! SO YUM!), Kremsfer Senf (an Austrian mustard brand, very distinct sweet flavour! Awesome!), and various pickled vegetables. And of course: Beer! Stiegl, Zipfer and Goesser are all available in Australia (and at almost AUD 4 per 500 ml can a rip-off!), but I almost ALWAYS get one to start off a big night out.
These things make me feel super content. It might be a quick fix, but it's a delicious one! And if your beloved foods are available here, home doesn't seem half as far away!

3. Open a savings account...

...and do that for the sole purpose of saving money for flights back home! There is nothing as exciting as knowing I am going to hug my family in a month + 1 days time! And even though my Mum and Dad paid for my flights this time (thank you x 1000!!), it is still a massive financial burden on a young woman like me.  Let's face it, traveling is expensive as all hell and besides the cost for flights and accommodation, your budget also has to cover all your bills back home. My rent doesn't automatically pay itself and being a casual employee, I don't receive any holiday pay. That's why saving my pennies is so important! However, I wouldn't want to miss out on going back home to celebrate my Mum's half century birthday (OMG! TIME FLIES!!!), have coffee with my friends, discuss important life matters with my sister and get hilariously drunk with my bro!
I know the stocktake sales are more than intriguing and eating out every weekend seems like a great reward for a hard week of work, but maybe you should start saving all those hard earned dollars for a GREATER CAUSE! You won't regret it!

4. And in those tough moments... REALISTIC!
There are moments where I get incredibly homesick and am confronted with an overwhelming amount of guilt. Yes, I have made a conscious decision of moving away and this decision, if always supported by my family and friends, doesn't come without a downside.
There are moments where I feel regret as to why I haven't spent more time with my grandmas, why I was such a little bitch to my parents as a teenager, why it sometimes takes me a month to reply to an E-mail from a friend and why I can't tell anyone when and where I am going to settle.

I don't have as many friends as I used to, because I am not there to nurture them. I am taking full responsibility for this. I live a life like everyone else, work full time and am trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my professional life and trust me, a 10 hr time difference doesn't always make it easy to keep in touch with as many people as I would like to either. But the great thing is that there are still people who want to know how I am doing and who still love me to bits, even though I jumped on a plane and got off on the other side of the globe!

And being realistic about this helps me out of these emotional slums. Being realistic about the fact that if I was home life wouldn't be all candy. That if I was still living at home, Dad and I would probably kill each other (figuratively) because we are so different. That Mum and I would get so over each other, because we both have opinions on things that are important to us, but are from different generations. That I would hang out in the same places as I did when I was 16 and would find myself lost in the same emotional dumpster. That I would probably stagnate as a person. That I wouldn't visit my Nanas every weekend to chat about the weather. That I wouldn't have a major career and a book deal up my sleeves and that I wouldn't travel to France or Italy or Spain every weekend.

Fact is: If I was home I would probably doing the SAME stuff that I am doing right now in a different part of planet Earth. And I think that's the most significant step of homesickness appreciation. Realising that the grass isn't greener on the other side of the world, but that it's just as great to roll around in as here! :)

Ps: Alex Turner. Please be my postman!