This weeks Ex pat Carnival is all about homesickness and how we deal with it. You can find the other ex pat’s links and entries over at Anna Overseas.
Each week a new topic is posted on Thursday and the participating entries and links are listed on the following Monday or Tuesday. All ex pats are welcome to participate.
Homesickness is an old friend of mine. I have moved from one state in the U.S. to the next. I have lived in Ohio, Kentucky, Arizona and South Carolina. I am not even going to go into all the different cities in each of these states that we moved to and from! I went to four different high schools in two years. Each time my family moved I had to learn to deal with missing my friends and my old home. I had to make new friends in a new school and adjust to a new home. My family was not a military family. My parents had to go where the work was and each time General Motors laid them off we had to move. My mother’s family lives in different states and some are self employed and would usually let my father work for them. So, we moved to whatever state the best offer came from.
I have a vivid memory of living in South Carolina and missing snow so bad I would become ill thinking about the Kentucky mountains covered in a white blanket. I missed the feeling of being surrounded by trees and nature. I loved it. One night I prayed to God to help me stop being so homesick. The next day when I was at school it began to snow! I was filled with happiness to see the soft snowflakes falling lazily down to the ground. It was a light fall of snow. However, the boys were going crazy running, sliding and trying to make snowballs. They were acting like they had never seen snow before and the truth is they had not. It had been several years since the last snow fall in South Carolina.
South Carolina was very different from Kentucky and Ohio. I was called a Yankee and everyone laughed at my accent. I was called a “niger lover” because I had black friends. I dressed differently, spoke differently, and thought differently from the others. It was very hard for me to live there but it was a great life experience. I learned that you can be a foreigner even in your own country! I actually feel more at ease in France than I did living in South Carolina.
We moved back to Kentucky for a short time and then to Ohio when I was fifteen. I did not move from Ohio again until I moved to France with my husband.
Because of my past experience with homesickness I knew it would visit me soon when I moved to France but no person can prepare themselves for what it will feel like or what you will miss. The first time it hit me so hard I sat in the car sobbing and my husband just held me. He understood because he had lived in America for over two years and I had witnessed his bouts of homesickness. It was because of a popular American song on the radio and because of this I had a flashback of driving down country roads with the windows down singing at the top of my voice with cornfield after cornfield passing me. Since this moment almost two years ago I have come a long way. Now if I had to go back to America I would be homesick for France. It is hard to love two countries.
What I still miss? I miss my family and I miss American t.v. and music the most. I miss my favorite foods like ice cream (ice cream in France has a very strong flavor and is so hard you can break a spoon trying to eat it), pie (pie and tarts are not the same), Mexican food, Chinese food (the French Chinese food is not as good), chili with crackers (it is impossible to find saltine crackers in France unless you want to pay outrageous prices for a small pack of crackers) and pizza (American pizza is the best in the world!)
What I do to feel better is find a way to make food from home the best I can. I have found Mexican burritos in the International isle along with pancakes and carrot cake (still no icing). I make homemade biscuits with brown gravy and fried eggs with bacon (at least the closest thing to real bacon I can find). I bake brownies and cookies.
Most of all I have looked at living here in France as an adventure. The funny thing is the longer I am here the houses do not look so strange and the cars are not so small. Now, I see more simiarities between the French and American culture than differences.
After a road trip far from Strasbourg I know I am almost home when I see the plains of Alsace spread out before me from the top of the Vosges. It is the same feeling I had when I saw the city of Cincinnati at the bottom of the last mount on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River and then I crossed the river and HOME!
I have literally crossed an ocean and I am home. Home is where you live and all the familiar things that surround you. Home is family.
Other ways I deal with homesickness is by staying in touch with my family and by writing this blog. My real name is certainly not Pumpkin Pie! I decided on this nickname after I went back and read my first entries to this blog.
Why start a blog? We had just purchased our first computer since moving to France so that I could stay in touch with my family in America. While surfing the net I came across blog after blog. So, I decided to start my own blog. I wanted to share the French culture with Americans back home and others in the world. I wanted to tell others about my personal experience living and adjusting to a new country and culture.
Has this helped me? Yes. It has. I now have a place to go to let out all my thoughts and feelings not only about my life in France but my life in this world.
I miss my country and even though I have chosen to live in France I will always carry America with me.
You can take the American out of America but you can not take America out of the American. I think all ex pat’s can relate to this by replacing American with their nationality and America with their country.