Apparently adults get homesick too
May 9, 2012 10:20 AM   Subscribe

Mid-20's female about to be very homesick. What can I do in advance and out in the field?

I know I'm going to be homesick this summer and I'm already physically sick about it. My summer job is a bit complicated and it involves leading a team (so, not in a position to make new bffs) in remote areas without cell reception or mail delivery. I've done this before and know I'm going to feel lonely and miss home. For the first time I will be leaving behind a loving boyfriend and I will be leaving the usual friends and family support network.

The job is only for 10 weeks and this is the last time I'm doing it so I just need to get through this summer. What can I do/tell myself?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Ask your friends and family to write you small notes. Amass 70 notes between all of them. Open one every day you're there. They can be simple things like: "I love you! or "Hang in there!" or "Make sure to brush your teeth - Mom"

Get a journal and write down your day as though you're writing an email to a friend or family member. Up to you if you want to share it with them when you get back.

You could even make a scrapbook later. :)
posted by royalsong at 10:31 AM on May 9, 2012 [9 favorites]

If you can, try to enjoy the opportunity of exploring a new place. If there are local hiking clubs, etc. that will help you get outdoors on the weekends, check them out. That way you won't be focusing quite so much on what you're missing.

I spent a summer in Alaska on my own years ago and am so glad I did it. I didn't know a soul, although there was a passel of twenty-something interns that I was able to hook up with for fun stuff on the weekends. I was glad to get back home to my close friends and was more than ready to do so, but if I had to do it all over again I would, in a minute.
posted by Currer Belfry at 10:39 AM on May 9, 2012

*Everything* royalsong suggested. Also, to maintain a connection with your sweetie, you could read the same books while you are apart - and get excited to discuss them when you are back together.
posted by anya32 at 10:39 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Is there any reason why you'll be the only one feeling homesick? Will your team also be away from their family and friends? Perhaps you can help yourself as well as the members of your team.

Depending on the tone you'll want to set, you could take the opportunity to combat homesickness for everyone. Can you schedule some daily or weekly events that would bring you together to socialize? It doesn't have to be "team-building" activities, but it could be communal meals, games or anything that the group would enjoy. I understand that you're the lead and this makes you feel less likely to make close friends, but it doesn't mean that you can't create a companionable environment that will help distract you from your homesickness.

Good luck!
posted by annaramma at 10:45 AM on May 9, 2012

Dorky coping mechanism alert: when I feel totally alone in an unfamiliar or unfriendly place, I like to think of myself as some fictional badass loner on a mission only I can accomplish. I recommend Batman.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:50 AM on May 9, 2012 [13 favorites]

Is getting a satellite phone an option?
I have been camping in some VERY remote places - but you can always see the sky, and if you can see the sky with one of these, you can call home.
posted by Flood at 10:50 AM on May 9, 2012

Lots of photos, old family videos (or make some now!) will help when you absolutely need the home fix. Perhaps buy some long-distance prepaid phone cards for areas where your cell reception won't work but land lines are available.

Also, try to take yourself completely out of the homesickness by doing, viewing or reading something that you wouldn't at home.

Maybe you have some strange, eclectic or niche taste that your family at home doesn't share? Away from home, you can indulge your special snowflake side. Have a taste for strange sweets or a penchant for Serbian turbo folk? You get the idea. Go for it!
posted by misha at 10:53 AM on May 9, 2012

I've done a fair amount of this - living alone far away from everyone I know for some periods of time here and there. It has gotten lonesome. My biggest suggestion is to keep busy and active and have some routine type things. If you don't have a regimen or something interesting to occupy your mind, you will fall into the downward spiral of time-left anxiety. This is the "omg I have 8 weeks left what am I going to do?" type thinking that will make it agony to be away.

Explore new places, start an exercise routine, practice meditating, get really into a book series that will take a bit of time to read, like Harry Potter or Proust, find a craft project that will take you about 10 weeks that you can work on in your spare time. The key is really just to keep your mind on things that aren't home.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:53 AM on May 9, 2012

Oh, one more thing! Could you take something small with you, like a stuffed animal? Even better if you can surreptitiously sneak away with something small of your boyfriend's. Whenever you find some place especially photogenic, have someone in the group take a picture of you with it, and let your boyfriend know it was standing in for him.

Or just take creative pics anthropomorphizing a toy (stuffed animal, vinyl snake, or a garden gnome like Travelocity's mascot, it really doesn't matter what) in various locations, and then write about why you chose that place and include the explanation with the picture. You'll have an unique travelogue/scrapbook/memoir to share with your boyfriend as you tell him all about your trip.

Alternately, as your boyfriend goes about his time doing things at home the two of you would do together, ask him to take a toy (maybe even a matching twin to yours?) to your favorite coffee houses, bookshops, etc. and do the same.

After all, while you're missing home, he'll be missing you. It might be nice to have the knowledge that he is making memories for you, too, in the back of your mind when you do get homesick.
posted by misha at 11:06 AM on May 9, 2012

Just because they aren't going to get delivered, doesn't mean you can't write letters! It might be nice to exchange a packet of 10 weeks' worth of unmailed letters with your boyfriend at the end of the trip--both something to do while you're away, and something to look forward to when you get home.
posted by snorkmaiden at 11:08 AM on May 9, 2012

I'm an avid reader so this may not work for everyone, but when I read a work of fiction I really love, I feel almost like the characters are my friends. Reading is one of the few things besides interacting with actual people that does make me feel less lonely. If it were me, I'd bring a lot of books. Ones that I know and treasure (old friends) and also new books I think I might like (new friends). YMMV.
posted by bananafish at 1:04 PM on May 9, 2012 [4 favorites]

Secrets of a nomad... First, there's an emotional attachment, and then the "routine" attachment. The routine one is easy. Bring what you can of your normal life: your alarm clock, photos with frames, bath products, concentrate on making the same food dishes, etc.

For the emotional, you're in a bind, but I'll second the notes ideas (on a weekly basis might be more possible). You need to keep them sealed and ration them. That will give you a goal to focus on, which helps. You could also concentrate on making something for them, like writing down your memories with them into a journal to share with them. That's something that will take on a life of it's own.

Oh, and chocolate, if possible.
posted by jwells at 3:41 PM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Once while at sea for an extended period me and some shipmates started talking over a us atlas. Telling stories about our respective homes. The map gave us all a common ground from which to tell our stories. I think we all found a bit of relief in it. You can't tell a story about your home without revisiting it a little bit.
posted by The Violet Cypher at 1:38 PM on May 10, 2012

« Older I moved. The cheese stayed where it was. Now it...   |   How to automate a dynamic web page using VBA? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.