45 days ago, I left Ohio. I left behind my family, my friends, and everything that I have considered normal for most of my life. I arrived in Morocco on June 27th, exactly 23 days ago. Even though I studied here in college, I have not yet adapted to my new home. But in these 23 days, some things about Morocco have become less strange than they once were when I first arrived. I am no longer afraid to be in a taxi stuffed with seven people. The sound of the call to prayer early in the morning is becoming a familiar sound that I look forward to hearing. I even learned to not completely want to vomit when I drink leben, the fermented milk drink that is so popular here. So what happens when everything that is new becomes normal? You get both more comfortable and more homesick. You start to live your life day to day without feeling like a tourist, but some of the excitement has gone leaving room for nostalgic thoughts about your hometown. I think this week would be a great time to post about some of the ways I combat homesickness.
I have used these techniques before when I studied in Italy back in high school. While nothing compares to being in your own home, there are ways to feel at ease in far away places.
- Stay disconnected! Yes, it sounds like the opposite of what you might think. Wouldn’t you feel ore homesick if you couldn’t talk to the people you love. In my experience, being on Facebook or constantly text my friends back in the States keeps me with one foot at home and one foot abroad. I can never be completely in one place, and that makes it difficult to adapt. No, I am not saying completely cut off your friends and family, but try to set a limit for how often you are looking at photos of parties and events of the people you love without you.
- Do something familiar. It can be a recipe, a craft, or even just joining a gym. Pick something you enjoyed doing at home and do it in your new city. It will make you feel like at least one thing has not changed.
- Do something new! Yes, the opposite of what I just said. Try to start a hobby you never tried before. Learn to surf if you live by a beach. Play a sport. Learn a craft. This will give you a new fun thing to associate with your new home.
- TREAT YO SELF! Living abroad can really keep you on a tight budget, but leave some room to do something nice for yourself occasionally. I have been buying an excessive number of succulents and plants to make my room feel more natural in this urban city. I even bought some pretty pricey sheets to help me fall asleep with all the street noise. It is definitely worth it to treat yourself here and there.
While nothing can really your home, you can make new memories and a new life where you are that you could never experience in your own town. These are the tradeoffs you must consider when moving abroad. I know it is not easy, but I am truly happy with my decision thus far. I will let you know if that changes. Let’s hope not!
See you back here next Friday!