Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Hardest Part About Living Abroad

Cleveland Skyline from Chapin Forest Park
The other day I was listening to one of my favorite songs, Skyline Drive by Mae. Whenever I listen to it I imagine summer nights and driving around the suburbs of Cleveland with my windows down. I imagine that summer night smell when you are just sitting outside and staring up at the stars. It put me in a melancholy mood. While I living in Russia can't drive a car to drive around and I can't sit on my parents' back porch. It really got me thinking about the hardest part about living in another country. For me, it's nostalgia. Yes, coming to a country where you aren't familiar with the language or the customs is hard, but that can all be learned. You can learn to speak the language and you can learn to adapt to the culture. It may take some time, but it will eventually happen. Unless, you're me and you can't seem to grasp the Russian language.

For me nostalgia is hard to deal with. You can't learn it, you can only try to deal with it. I am one of those people who lives in the past. I revere the past. I put it on a pedestal. I often forget that my darkest days of depression are now in my past. Maybe my idolization of the past is why I love history so much.

I deal with homesickness a lot especially around the holidays. I get nostalgic for Christmas with my family. The other day I was walking around IKEA and it reminded me of decorating former apartments and bedrooms. It thought about the time I went to IKEA with my friend Haley and having a craft date afterwards. For the next week I was really homesick. I was convinced I couldn't stay in Russia anymore.

In a way, I guess, you can learn to deal with the homesickness if you are willing. On the other hand, I also think nostalgia and homesickness are different. They are related but different. There are things that you can do to deal with being homesick. You can talk to family and find things to do. Nostalgia, though, comes out of no where and hits you like a ton of bricks. You can't fix nostalgia because it lives in the past. Unless you have a time machine, you'll never really be able to fill that desire for the past.

I don't necessarily think this feeling is explicitly linked to living abroad. This happened to me in college, after college, and I'm sure I will one day be nostalgic for Russia. I still don't know how to accurately deal with it, but I usually try to tell myself that I'm not thinking clearly or I'm too emotional at the moment. As I get older I fear nostalgia will become more protrusive because I will have had more of the past to remember, but maybe it will get easier because I'll become wiser as I age. At least that's what I imagine will happen to me.

Do you get nostalgic? How do you deal with it?

11 comments

  1. I love reading your blog! Nostalgia is bittersweet. I get nostalgic for past holidays and events when my parents were still alive, but I take joy in the fact that we were able to celebrate together. Thanks for sharing your journey in Russia. Looking forward to seeing you when you get back home. - Jeanmarie

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    1. My grandma was Slovenian and used to make the BEST Slovenian coleslaw. A few months ago I ate at a cafeteria and had a "salad" that looked and just tasted like her coleslaw. I was sad, but like you, I was happy for a chance to remember her and her legacy lives on through my aunts. :)

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  2. I only live a few hours away from my family, but I do miss them so much! Especially when I remember holiday traditions and family trips we took together. :)

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    1. I felt that way when I was living away for college! I get it! :)

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  3. Nostalgia, yes. I never felt it much until these past 2 years. When we lived in Ukraine- no matter how wonderful or horrible things were- I felt so lucky to be there every day. When we left it felt so awkward and wrong. Do you know the Russian word тоска? That exact feeling. It's only very recently that the feeling has started to fade. There must be a shortcut to moving on from loved things but I never found it. Hope you are able to!

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    1. I decided to stay another year here. I know that if I leave I'll regret it. Money will be super tight this second year, but it will be worth it. I haven't heard that word before so I just looked it up. I understand the feeling!

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    2. Another year, how cool!!! :D Can't wait to read all about it!

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  4. You sound so like me. I adore History and have wondered if that's why I live in the past so much... or in the future out of a belief that it must be better than now. Yet, just like you, I have to remember that my darkest days are also in the past. Thank you for being so honest. It's good to know I'm not the only one who struggles with living in the present when nostalgia strikes.

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    1. I definitely think nostalgia is something everyone deals with to some extent. It's good that I have people who can relate to what I'm talking about. Sometimes I feel crazy. :)

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  5. I love this. I'm really nostalgic and often wonder if when I'm older I'll just be living in memories.

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    1. SAME! Especially when I think about family dying. I don't handle death well for this reason.

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