Homesickness when Living Abroad

“Don’t you get homesick?“ Another question I’ve had people ask me several times, either when I was living abroad or when I was about to move abroad again. Another valid question, considering the fact that at the moment there are oceans between my family, my (old) friends, and me. I just now googled the distance between my hometown and Yokohama for the first time. The search result: 9.575,58 km linear distance.

Sounds like a lot.

Most of the time, it doesn’t feel like a lot though. Most of the time, I don’t feel the distance at all. It feels like I’m only a few cities away and I’d just have to hop on a bus for a couple of hours to see whoever I want to see.

How come?

For one thing, once I’d learnt about myself that I can create a new life from scratch anywhere I go, I also felt that I could be at home anywhere I went. As a consequence, I now adapt to new surroundings quite quickly. I’ve also learnt how to let new people into my life quickly, too. I believe that the faster I open my heart to a new friend, the faster I have a chance to really feel at home at a new place.

For another, having oceans between me and the people I care about is not a new situation for me. I’m used to my most important people being far away. It’s not even something I think of as bad or painful anymore. It’s just the way it is. Some of my closest friends who know me and continue to know me inside out, I haven’t seen face to face in years. Nevertheless, we write to each other regularly. Some of them write to me only once in a while, others close to every day. That way I feel like they’re always with me, even when physically, they are not.

This is how I can be perfectly fine 9.575,58 km away from my hometown and family.

Most of the time.

Sometimes, homesickness hits me hard, like someone snuck up on me with a baseball bat and whacked me over the head with it. It usually happens when things aren’t going amazingly well and I feel like I’m failing at something, be it my job, my health, my relationships.

What am I homesick for though? A country? A city?

Nope. Not anymore.

I’m homesick for and want to spend actual ’face to face time’ rather than only FaceTime with people who know me. Not just recently, but who have known me for a long time. Who know who I was half a lifetime ago. Before I moved abroad and pulled off a sometimes daunting full-time job that requires a lot of acting and pretending. Acting to be ok when I’m drained or sad (or both). Pretending to be professional when it feels way to early in my career to be even close to professional and I actually have no clue what I’m doing.

I’m homesick for people I don’t have to explain myself to. Who understand me even when my words make no sense or I don’t have any words at all and just stare into my tea.

I’m homesick for people I don’t have to convince who I am. Because they already know. And they decided that I’m pretty much ok that way, even when I’m failing at something.

I’m homesick for people who hug me and not let go.

Since these people aren’t here with me in Yokohama (edit: aren’t here yet. Some people are becoming closer friends each day), I have to bounce back on my own each time the baseball bat of homesickness strikes again. What helps me do that is knowing that the people I described above do exist, somewhere in the world.

Even when it’s 9.575,58 km or whatever number away.


Fuji evening


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