Never Feeling Home - Homesickness on Exchange
I’m going to be honest and say I don’t ice skate much. I shot an ice hockey puck for the first time last Christmas. Ice skating is so nice and simple, it’s literally just going around in circles. Also, it’s pretty adorable to see a little kid learning to skate or a teen couple on their first date awkwardly avoiding each other's hands when skating side by side. And of course, in every single neighbourhood in my town there is an ODR (outdoor rink) and you are guaranteed to see a game going on nearly any time of the day. This feeling of community, even in the cold winter months, is so Canadian and so great. We are happy about the simple things, like winning in roll up the rim and skating in circles, and we make the best out of even the coldest of temperatures.
Canada, and especially the area I live, has shown me how incredible it is to live in a community. I miss the community of support I had built around me. I miss the people that made my life in Canada so amazing. I could not be more grateful for the people in my life, especially my family, that continue to support me even when I’m miles away. It makes my heart so happy to know that I get to come home to you.
In the last year, I had four addresses. I’m used to moving around a lot and never feeling fully at home. Goodbyes get easier, and homesickness fades (ish). But, it’s pretty difficult to make connections and keep relationships when you move every four months, especially with new people I’ve only known for those brief months. Although it’s possible and I’ve certainly done it, it’s much harder to feel a part of a community when you’re always on the brink of leaving. This month will actually be the first time in the past year that I have stayed at one address for more than four months.
This also means that when I do make connections with people, a few months later when those people are struggling with something, I can’t be there for them. And I’m also not at home so I can’t be there for people that have been there for me my entire life.
My grandparents, aka some of the loveliest and supportive people in my life, have just moved into a new apartment. In the months leading up to it, they were so excited. I got to hear all about what napkins they purchased, and the Christmas tree they got for the next year (that one was a huge deal apparently it’s a gorgeous blue spruce that was on a really good deal - Grandma was really happy about it). But, I missed out on the housewarming and champagne popping. There’s so many of my family members that have birthdays this month and my brother just competed in Nationals for volleyball. This is the worst part about it - not being able to be there to celebrate my friends and family members successes and support them in their tough times because I’m simply not there.
As I write this, my friend from home (s/o Jill Wiberg) sent me a snap of her at my favourite coffee shop and told me she just chatted with my grandparents. They go to that coffee shop everyday and I used to join them sometimes. So, I also miss out on the everyday simple pleasures, like going for coffee. My grandpa is definitely one to appreciate the little things in life, and sometimes they'll be a break in the conversation and he'll just say something like "wow, isn't this just incredible that we are able to have coffee on a patio".
Meanwhile, in the UK, I’m starting to feel a bit at home and meeting so many lovely people. I feel like I have just barely started to feel at home, learn the customs, and get to know the amazing people on exchange here - and I’m leaving again in a month. As cheesy as it may be, I really don't think home is a place. It's more of a feeling of comfort and belonging, and it's definetly more about the people then the place. I’m so grateful to have so many good hearted people in my life.
I’m supposed to miss Canada and feel a bit of heartache every time I see anything remotely Canadian and I’m also supposed to feel a bit uncomfortable when I walk down the street and still cannot figure out which side to walk on. After all, that’s why I’m here- the “exchange experience” would not be complete without the feeling of being alien and missing what’s normal.
Here’s to never feeling fully at home anywhere ever, and loving it (or learning to).