Missing certain things and people ( and cats) comes in waves. The first few weeks were exciting, and then followed by a certain sadness, a longing for things that make sense, of being able to communicate effectively. I have had so many strange conversations in broken ENglish, German and “local language” that I realize most language is non verbal. exploring this country and my home city of Mostar has been fascinating and yet, bewildering. Why do I feel so at odds a times, I asked myself.
After a google search, I discovered this is common. I reach back in memory and ask myself if I felt this way in Estonia? Probably. But then again, I lived there, not merely visiting. And Estonia is my cultural heritage. So the transition was easier.
Now that I am two-thirds of the way through my stay, I feel at home, and yet still anxious to go back to the US. I am really missing my library visits. Not the coffee, which my husband misses, but access to books. I suppose I could have bought an e-reader but it is not the same as the Library visit. The aura of books, the buzziing of people looking for books, reading the newspapers, and in my local library, many children being tutored. Thinking seems to be going on. In Mostar, it is hard to find English language books. I am reading Little House on the Prairie and On the Road for the umpteenth time. There is the American Corner but I miss my local library, with its many shelves of new books.
Homesickness seems to be a somewhat taboo topic. But it is normal, I read. It takes at least 4 -6 months to adjust to a new culture. Well, I have just enough time to adjust to BiH, and then I must return to readjust the USA. For now, I have sufficient time to develop my skills in photography, to spend time developing my eye, to write, to do research. I have time to reflect. When I return, I fear that will disappear in the crush of workload I have at my college. And the sheer pressures one faces in the DC area. No more quick walk down the street to the shop for fresh bread. To prepare myself, I have to imagine my life back in the states, and mentally prepare myself for the immersion back. No one ( except my husband) will have a clue about what I experienced here. People will expect the old me. But you can’t remain the same after living in such an intense place as BiH, as Mostar.
Neither place feels like home to me. The rush of life in DC, and the slow pace in Mostar. What I will miss are the mountains. The rugged scenery here will be exchanged for highways, freeways, and traffic lights.
One thought on “of homesickness and other things”
How fortunate you are to have your husband to share this experience and talk about the adjustments that both cultures will demand from you…
When you return to the states and NOVA, it would be great to have you share your experience of culture shock with our intercultural communication students.