Challenge: Conquering Homesickness

Sometimes I think my father should be nominated for Best Dad of the Universe.

There are a lot of reasons for this, like the fact that he handled living with three incredibly bossy, opinionated, and headstrong females for many years without going totally insane.

He deals with this by fishing for hours and hours at a time. No crazy women on the lake!

But one of the main reasons is that when I was little, I used to get horribly homesick when I was staying with friends and call home at 3 a.m. or so to have my dad come get me. I don’t remember him ever being upset with me or annoyed at the fact that he had to drag himself out of bed—again—to fetch his daughter. This was not a one-time occurrence, either. I had chronic homesickness.

I'm on the right. I look too cute to be a pain, right?!

The homesickness I experienced when I was a little girl was awful.  Before bedtime, I was fine. We would watch Labyrinth (hells yes to David Bowie in a codpiece!) or La Bamba and sing along to all the songs, eat lots of junk food, and gossip. But when the lights were turned out late late at night, I sat wide awake in the dark in my Strawberry Shortcake sleeping bag on my friends’ floors and felt an overwhelming sense of loneliness and sadness.

All I wanted in life was to get back to my room, with my bed, my stuffed animals, my familiar noises. There might have been monsters in my closet, too, but at least they were ones I knew about. And if somebody was going to break into the house to kill us all, at least I knew where I could hide when I was at home. If I was at somebody else’s house, all bets were off—I was a goner for sure. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who ever thought about that…or still does…I used to have a definite plan for hiding in my apartment in Maryland if somebody broke in to rape and/or murder me. That’s just smart, people! In my apartment in BKK, I’m basically dead because there’s nowhere to hide. I need a better plan.)

So I called my dad at 3 a.m. and he came to get me. Every time.

Since I first left home for college when I was 17, I’ve lived in two different cities in Missouri, two different states, and three different countries. I’ve traveled to a lot of countries, for long periods of time.

Somehow, I still get homesick every time I leave home overnight, but I don’t call my dad to come get me anymore.

Now I'm feeling nostalgic.*

*My mom’s going to kill me for posting this picture. Love you, Mom!

Yeah, I’m not entirely sure how it came to pass that I don’t like being out of my comfort zone, yet I am constantly forcing myself out of said comfort zone. I mean, nobody made me leave all my belongings behind and move to countries where I can neither read nor write the language.

I'm just smart like that.

Since moving to Thailand in August, the homesickness hasn’t been too bad because I’ve been mostly happy to be here. There have been rough patches, though, when I would kill your mother to:

a)    be able to buy some cheap cans of black beans, tortilla chips, salsa, and shredded cheese for nachos. NACHOS, I say! Cheap ones! At home! I mean, I saw shredded cheese at Villa in BKK for about $8 ($2.50 for the same stuff back in the U.S.)…that’s not sustainable nacho culture. I’m going to start a sustainable nacho movement! Join me!

b)   see the leaves changing color in the fall. Perpetual summer is awesome, but I still feel like I’m on perpetual vacation.

c)    get into my car and drive 5 minutes down the road to the grocery store, where everything is familiar and I can read all the labels, even the ones in Spanish.

d)   order a big effing pizza for, like, $7.

e)    see my family and friends.

f)     speak English to everybody. I know I’m in another country, people, and I am trying to learn the language. But sometimes—like when I asked in Thai, “Do you have wifi?” and the guy brought me a glass of white wine—I feel like throwing in the towel. I don’t want to become one of those people who just speak English in their host country, but I will if I have to! Don’t mess with me, Thailand!

g)    have a big oven and my beautiful KitchenAid mixer to make some delicious baked treats. I don’t know how to make new friends if I can’t bribe people with baked goods!

Here are some virtual baked goods for you. Now be my friend!

Yes, I made those, and they were delicious.

I’ve just been thinking about being homesick because I’ve been in Chiang Mai for a week now and I’m getting more and more homesick for my apartment in Bangkok. I don’t cry when I get homesick now, but I get irritable and grumpy, which is really fun for my traveling companion!

I'm fun! By which I mean I need a lot of attention and will resort to jumping in front of cameras if I have to.

Yesterday I came dangerously close to having an I-hate-everything-about-Thailand moment, which had absolutely nothing to do with Thailand and everything to do with the fact that I want to be in my apartment—my home—with all my familiar things. And I want to be able to read signs and menus.

I’m back in BKK on Friday, but in the meantime, I’m accepting donations for my sustainable nacho movement!

Final Score:

Homesickness: 1   Megan: 1

I don’t get as homesick as I used to, but I still have to battle it every time I leave whatever I consider my home for the moment. It’s not terribly fun, but that’s the way it goes sometimes…

Chocolate root beer bundt cake. If I had an oven here, I would make it for you. I promise.

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16 Comments

Filed under Daily Challenge, Living Abroad, Thai, Thailand

16 responses to “Challenge: Conquering Homesickness

  1. 1. I will happily join your sustainable nacho movement. The only food I REALLY miss from home is cheese, being from Wisconsin -it’s kind of a given.

    2. I have an oven and I would gladly let you use it in exchange for one of those chocolate root beer bunt cakes. It looks delicious!

    • 1. I miss cheese so much!

      2. Well, I lied about being able to make the cake here, even with an oven–I’d have to have a bundt cake pan…although I guess I could find one! :)

  2. You asked for wi-fi and got white wine? Awesome! Could have been worse – a while ago I asked for an onion but actually asked for a huge penis. You’ll get used to it. Judging by the look on the face of the poor poor old woman I asked, she likely won’t.

  3. Hi Megan, I left my home country 22 years ago, but I still get bouts of home sickness. It comes about once a year and I treat it like a bout of the flu. I know that it will pass. It is great nowadays because the internet means that when I’m missing the old country I can listen to their radio stations online and watch TV programs too.

    • Yeah–I know it will pass. And you’re right–the internet is a great help! It’s so much easier to connect with everybody, and keep track of news back home.

  4. Bethany

    Megan! I had no idea you were home sick as a child. This would have given us so much more to talk about! I was the exact same way! Just ask my dad. As I recall, one of my bouts of homesickness was at your house! I have to agree that Daddy IS the one to call! You know our moms would have been like “you’re what! Homesick!?! Well too bad. I’m in bed. Good night.”. Maybe not so harsh but you know they wouldn’t be as forgiving as our dads. I totally understand this post and loved every second of reading it!

  5. Hang in there! You’re doing all the right things by remembering why you’re living in Thailand and giving yourself things to look forward to. Staying busy is always a plus, then these melancholy feelings will pass.

    No matter what, we can’t have it all where we live at any given moment. You’re doing great to make the best of it. :) And I think you’re fantastic for getting over homesickness so well when you used to get it so badly as a youngster. Good on you! :)

    • Thanks, Amy! It’s really not too bad right now; I’m just kind of grumpy and missing a few things. I’m expecting it to reach up and grab me soon, though…

  6. Kristin

    yum.. bundt cake. Silvana and I made a Polenta-Rosemary-Bread the other day and it made me think of you. It also makes me think that I could really go for a cookie…. mmm, cookies.

  7. homesickness is the pits, and i definitely experience it in the same way you do. my solution has been to make little mini-homes that exist in every city, aka spend considerable amounts of time in coffee shops. no matter where i go, there’s almost always a coffee shop that i can hide in.

    and YES, i always have an escape/defense plan for my apartment, office, etc. it just makes sense people!

    i wish you could come to madison and bake for me RIGHT NOW. it’s cold and rainy and very november chilly here. all i want to do is eat copious amounts of cake. and i mean COPIOUS. would you share your chocolate root beer bundt cake recipe? pretty please!?

    • I think you’re right about the mini-homes. And THANK YOU for having an escape plan, as well. :)

      I’ll send you a link to the recipe over email, but it comes from a book called Baked, which you should *really* buy. It’s one of my favorite baking cookbooks ever and has the best chocolate chip cookie recipe in the world, I think!

  8. rikker

    Okay, I’m totally on the lookout for a bundt cake pan now.

    We’ve been doing a lot of baking lately at my house. My daughter, who’ll be 3 in December, can’t get enough of it. Because let’s face it–cookie dough is just Play-Doh that you can eat without getting yelled at.

    Plus it’s nice that in Thailand my neighbors don’t think we’re crazy (at least, not as much as Americans would) when we bring them frosted sugar cookies in Christmas shapes in November.

    Also, Labyrinth. w00t. My family always used to rent that, back when VCRs were still so expensive you rented a VCR along with the video.

    • Hahahahaha! Renting a VCR with the video–I totally forgot about doing that! Hilarious!

      And that is so true about cookie dough…your daughter and your neighbors are lucky!

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