Moving overseas takes a lot of work. For months, your life is taken over by a seemingly never-ending to-do list of unpacking boxes, shopping for furniture, starting a new job, trying to figure out how the heck to get to the grocery store, and so on. You are discovering new things every time you step out the front door and that constant overstimulation is both exhilarating and exhausting.
It can take a while for life to really settle down into some semblance of normalcy and for the shine and sparkle of newness to fade. That’s when reality really starts to sink in – this is permanent.
Around six months in, things that started off as quirky and exciting may start to lose some of their charms and you’ll probably find yourself missing the familiarity of home. In my experiences with living overseas, homesickness comes in waves. Most of the time you will fall in love with the things that make your city unique, but every now and again tiny details may trigger a fresh bout of missing home.
My triggers have been fairly mundane. For example, my office puts on a lot of staff breakfasts, known here in New Zealand as morning teas. Typical food offerings include savories (mince pies, egg and bacon pies, sausage rolls) and slice (a seemingly generic word for any cake or cookie baked dessert that can be served as a small square or rectangle). Maybe it’s the native East Coaster in me, but what is breakfast without the bagels and schmear?
Another thing that gets me is the radio. Not to break any stereotypes, but when Pete and I were living in San Francisco and Portland we listened to a lot of NPR. Weekend road trips were full of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me panels and the morning commute was made bearable by Steve Inskeep, Rachel Martin, David Greene and Noel King chatting away on The Morning Edition. I have found New Zealand radio…how to say this kindly… unpolished. Sometimes you need a break from top 40 and New Zealand talk radio can leave you wondering how they really spent an hour discussing Ed Sheeran’s New Zealand tour.
Pro Tip: Get a car with an AUX cord. Then you can stream TED Talks and This American Life to your heart’s content.
When you start to feel rain clouds rolling in over your head, just remind yourself of the things that made you want to move in the first place…sausage rolls.
But in all seriousness, staying open to new experiences is essential to seeing the beauty in any place. Before you know it, you’ll be traveling somewhere new and realize how much you miss that city that once seemed so foreign to you. You’ll realize that somehow that place has weaseled its way into your heart and now you have one more place in the world to call home.
The more you travel, the more you understand that to you’ve given up the luxury of calling one place home. You will discover bits of yourself in cities across the world and constantly find yourself craving a slice from that one pizza spot in Florence or missing that perfect indie movie theater in Portland you used to go to for $4.00 a ticket. For example.
Invest in a good travel credit card and save up your annual leave because, with so many homes to visit, you’re going to be busy racking up those airline miles.