Okay, so I know that last week you all heard about my one month reflection, and I will admit, I am having a great time here in Rome. But, as it is now Week 6, there is an important topic to discuss: homesickness. The dreaded “h-word.” As we start midterms week, the stress is real. So many things are coming at you at once: humanities students are preparing for their written exams, art students are finishing up their sculptures, paintings, and frescoes, and everyone is trying to finalize their spring break itineraries. Of course, our exams take top priority, but spring break stress is real, too! You would think that staying so busy would help keep your mind off of homesickness, but I think that the stress only brings homesickness to the forefront.
Of course, this is a topic that nobody wants to talk about, much less write about, because study abroad is supposed to be a happy time, right? And it is a happy time, but I think we would be kidding ourselves if we said that there was never a moment abroad where things get difficult. Before I came abroad, all I ever heard about was the positive, and not a lot about the tough moments. I think the reason we don’t hear about the difficult times is because as humans, we hate to talk about when we are struggling. Often, it can feel easier to push through and ignore homesickness rather than acknowledge it. I am learning, though, that ignoring only hinders your adjustment.
I am a strong believer in the power of honesty and vulnerability, and as I write this now, I will be exactly that. Right now, at the halfway-point in our program, I am missing my friends and family, and I am missing the comfort of my typical day-to-day routine at home. There are moments when I cannot help but think about what’s happening at home— basically, things I am “missing out on.” But, I have to remember that:
- By being in Rome, I am not missing out on anything, and
- I didn’t come to Rome to be comfortable, but rather to be thrown into a completely new environment.
I am grateful that I have so many wonderful things at home to miss, but I want to remember to stay focused on what’s happening right here in Rome. A couple days ago, I was talking to one of my roommates about homesickness, and we both agreed that we need to give ourselves time to process everything. After all, we’ve lived in America our whole lives, and Rome for only 6 weeks. It’s normal and perfectly okay to miss the familiarity, but we cannot dwell on it. Our experiences in Rome are not supposed to mirror our experiences at home, and the patterns and relationships I have at home are not supposed to be the patterns and relationships I have in Rome. Most importantly, it is not my job to try to model my time in Rome off of what would be happening at home, if that makes sense.
I am a creature of habit, and such, I am slowly accepting the fact that the way I live my life at Princeton is not supposed to be the way I live my life here. Instead of focusing on what would be happening at home, I am learning to enjoy the new patterns that are developing here. For example, I am becoming quite fond of the classic Sunday-night dance parties that happen in our kitchen. All it takes is a couple throwback tunes, some pepper bottle “microphones,” five girls in a kitchen, and we’re golden. Just now we sang, danced, and laughed on our balcony, performing for the streets of Rome, and I know that these are the types of memories I won’t forget. So, to sum things up: homesickness is okay, and we should be open about it, but I’m going to make sure it doesn’t keep me from the dance party for too long!