Before I came to teach in Germany, a lot of people warned me that I might get homesick. After all, five weeks is a long time in a foreign country.
They were right, in a sense.
Because I constantly moved from place to place as a child, I never really stayed in one place long enough to really consider it my “home.” I still struggle with the question, “Where are you from?” because there is no easy way to answer that without giving someone my whole life story. Is it the place I was born, California, even though I lived there for less than a year and have no recollection of it whatsoever? Is it my favorite place I lived, Kӓshofen? Is it the place I’ve lived the longest, Weaverville? Is it where my apartment is and where I go to school, Boone?
As far as locations, I don’t really know where my home is. But then, do homes necessarily have to be places? For me, people, and the memories I share with them, have become my home.
So am I homesick? Yes. But not necessarily for North Carolina. I miss my family, I miss my friends, and I miss my boyfriend. To my loved ones, I dedicate this blog post to you.
This past week, I had the opportunity to travel to one of the places I mentioned previously, Kӓshofen. If I had to pick a favorite out of all the places I’ve lived, it would definitely be little old Kӓshofen. After we moved in 2006, I missed it dearly, knowing that I had spent some of the best years of my life there. Over the years, the memories of the times I spent there became distant. But returning after eleven years, they all came rushing back.
It felt odd, almost wrong, not being there with my family. As I walked around the town, I was struck with nostalgia, remembering specific moments that took place in each location: the time I first met a stray cat in the street, which we later adopted, the time I went sledding with my dad and brother on one of the hills on the outskirts of town, all the places I’d walk to with my mom and our dog, my old friend’s house, the playground that my brother and our friends would play on, and so on. Returning to Kӓshofen was hard because I realized that I could never quite go back to the place in my memories. I felt like I didn’t belong there anymore. I was lonely because I wanted my family to be there with me. But, at the same time, I am grateful to have had the chance to go back. I enjoyed the day I spent there reminiscing and exploring everything with new eyes, and I visited my old landlord and landlady, and some old family friends.
I’ve had a wonderful Easter break, visiting family and friends and places that I haven’t seen in over a decade. It’s been a little daunting, having to visit everyone alone, especially knowing only a conversational amount of the German language. But I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to do so.
I’ve been hearing a lot of tales about everyone else’s breaks, and all the adventures they’ve been on – and wow, do they sound great! In some ways, I feel as if my Easter break has been quite different from everyone else’s. I didn’t go anywhere big or bold or new, like many others did. But that’s okay. I’ve already been to a lot of big cities in Europe, and I those I haven’t been to, I plan on visiting in the future.
I mentioned before that this blog post was dedicated to my loved ones, my “home,” so I just want to write a few of the thoughts I’ve had during my time here in regards to those people.
To sweet boyfriend, JC, I just want to warn you that I’ve been making a mental list of all the places in Europe we need to explore together in the future, once I make a world traveler out of you. I’m looking forward to geeking out over the historical significance of all the places we visit.
To my mother, everyone I’ve visited has talked my me about how wonderful of a person you are, and they couldn’t be any closer to the truth. Thank you for leading by example and raising me to be both kind and courageous, and for supporting me in all that I do. Everyone here misses you and would like to see you again. I hope that the next time I’m in Germany, you’re here with me.
To my father, thank you for passing on your love of travel and adventure to me. I have already been able to see so much of the world because of you, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Thank you for passing on the love of history as well! I have a much bigger appreciation for all of the old places I’m revisiting. We used to make fun of you for taking so long in museums because you wanted to read everything, but now I’ve become that person as well.
To my brother, Zach you’re not the sentimental type, and I doubt you read my blog posts so I guess it doesn’t really matter anyway. We got on each other’s nerves as kids, but we had some good times too; being in Kӓshofen reminded me of those times. I miss you now, more than ever.
To all my friends back home, I wish you luck and sanity as the end of the semester and exams draw near, but have some fun too! I miss y’all, and I’m sorry I can’t be there with you at the end of my last semester.