Homesickness: Sadness caused by longing for one’s home or family during a period of absence. Also: an instance of this. In early use sometimes regarded as a medical condition. Oxford English Dictionary
As a newcomer to Pittsburgh, I am homesick. Despite moving here almost three years ago for my husband’s job, everything still feels new. We have never lived anywhere but southeast Michigan all our lives so it’s a shock that I have yet to get over. It lingers in the back corners of my mind but then I might be plunged into it whenever I hear certain music or read a news article or book–and there have been several books about Detroit lately due to its notorious example of urban failure.
As a good librarian, I’ve been researching homesickness for information that might help with what I’m feeling (loss, loneliness, unfamiliarity) and practical tips on how to cope (difficult for an introvert like myself who dislikes change). Surprisingly, this has proven to be difficult.
Most magazine articles I find about homesickness are all geared toward the college student or young child at camp or away from home for the first time. It’s much easier to adjust when you’re younger–it’s also a lot easier to make friends. But what do you do when you’re a homesick adult?
And there are often chapters in books about moving that talk about making your children feel more comfortable during a move but again, nothing for or about adults. Perhaps our culture assumes that adults don’t struggle with feelings of homesickness?
But this isn’t true. I can only find one entire book devoted to this topic: Homesickness: An American History by Susan J. Matt. It traces the history of migrations and, using diaries and letters, explains that throughout history humans have always felt homesick. Well, duh! But, back then, when you left home, it most likely was forever. I’m lucky Michigan is only five hours away.
Sometimes I feel guilty feeling like this, especially when I remember that my own father left Cuba during the revolution in 1957 when he was eighteen years old and has never returned. Imagine moving from tropical Cuba to bitterly cold Detroit in January, not knowing English and enrolled at a large university long before they even had resources or services for foreign students.
How about you? Are you from somewhere else and struggling with homesickness?