Homesickness. It’s something you forget about when counting down the days until you’re on a plane bound for your new life. It’s the thing I was desperately persistent to not be, to not acknowledge in the slightest. But then it finds a way inside, most of the time late at night. When I just want to be in the woods of the mountain I grew up on. Where I long to feel the sun dancing on my skin, as the light intertwining through the leaves creates patterns that flow and change with the wind. I never thought I would be so utterly yearning for the mountains, for the forest filled with towering trees, or even for the scent of Signal Mountain Tennessee. There are times where I find myself with an excruciating ache to just hear the voice of any of the people I have strung up on my wall. I’ve been homesick, there I admit it. I don’t know why I pushed that feeling away for so long. Some say if you try to forget about it, then it will go away, but in all honesty, that is not the case. It was worse when I tried so desperately not to be, then when I finally allowed myself to cry.
There are times when I’m sitting in the midst of my Irish classmates who have known each other for years, and I start to wish for the familiar, for the classmates I left behind. Randomly in school, I find myself looking for certain faces, ones that I have known since six-grade, but there never there. When I think I see one of my American classmates, it’s never them. How could it be, I’m in another country remember? Of course, I chose this, to be the foreigner in a room full of citizens. I’m the one who has different views, the one with the accent, the one out of place and most of the time I like it, being different. But then there are days when I can’t stand it, having people acknowledge my accent on certain words or my use of ‘strange’ phrases, or having to constantly watch what I say or do.
It’s hard being somewhere, where the culture is so extraordinarily different, where the peoples’ backgrounds are too. I’m used to being comforted by the fact that my class knows me, and understands me and my personality. But it’s almost the complete opposite here. From a private southern all-girls prep school, where we all come from relatively the same financial background, and where I’m always certain someone will share my same views, it is hard for me that it is not the case here. What’s normal to me is in no way normal to them, things that you can and are almost expected to discuss where I come from is not here. Part of my personality is constantly aware of the goals I have for my future, and the benefits that come with it. At home, it’s expected to talk about our futures, after all, we have the concept of the ‘American dream’. Though Irish people are a lot more reserved in that aspect, apart from teachers asking what we want to study or what we might want to do not many people even hint of what their future holds, it’s not something really talked about.
I think some of the Irish kids don’t understand the completely different cultures and background we come from. I know we share the same language and don’t have the same troubles as other exchange students coming to learn English, but for us Americans we face different challenges that feel harder in some ways. Unlike our foreign friends we don’t always get a second chance when we say the wrong thing. It’s a challenge I never thought about, how what I say could be taken the wrong way or come across not how I intended it too.
Coming to a place where they think they know you from what they see on TV is difficult. I feel as though they expect me to be this ‘American girl’ who will automatically live up to their image of us across the sea. In some ways I am, I fit into some of the models of the million American stereotypes out there.
Sometimes, well probably most of the time I like to go along with the red white and blue picture I am portrayed as. It’s fun most of the time, but then there are times where I have just had enough, days where I can’t keep up with the slags or the idea of who I am supposed to be as the American. I never thought it would be this different, more than just culture, I never imagined what it would be like to interact with people who are not only different from your nationality but financially too. I think this is one of the more difficult things I have been faced with. I hate talking about money with the people of my host community, but it is a question that comes up. Living in a small Irish town means that most of the residents cannot afford all the luxuries in life or even small things you could be used to. I’m sometimes afraid that I come across as a spoiled brat to people if they ask me about my school at home or things I don’t catch myself from saying. I’ve actually talked to one of my teachers about this and she reassured me that if someone asked me a question and didn’t like the answer that it was their own problem, and I shouldn’t worry about that sort of thing.
As an exchange student, I wanted more for myself, I wanted to learn about new cultures and be faced with obstacles that keep on growing. Though they seem difficult at sometimes, these challenges, that I am getting through, are what make this experience so special. I am so glad I found a way to be where I am today, sitting in my Irish room writing this blog. Never in a million years would I take back the decision to study abroad in high school. I would never wish to not face the struggles that come with culture shock. These things I never imagined I would even be faced with are what continue to build me as a person, helping me discover who I am and strengthen who I am going to become.
Now I know this isn’t a super happy blog but I wanted to show another part of this experience that can sometimes be forgotten about. Right now, I’m living the best year of my life so far. Though for a couple weeks in November I started to feel the effects of homesickness I have gotten over most of it. I’m sorry I didn’t get to talk about any exiting events but I thought this would be an important post.
Now for pictures!
An Irish rainbow
Bike riding in Killarny national park on our independent travel over midterm
For Thanksgiving we(my host family) went out to eat for dinner
Some of my American friends came to Galway, it was great meeting up with them again
Also in Galway city, but with one of my EIL friends
the whole group I went on an independent travel with, this was our first day in Kerry
more of Killarney and the ring of Kerry
this past weekend in Cork
Thank you for readin another one of my Irish Blogs