As someone who lived in NYC all summer away from my family and friends, I can attest firsthand to the idea that being alone in a busy city is a special kind of loneliness. Granted, I had an amazing roommate and several friends who made the trek to the Big Apple, but it’s still an adjustment going from a dorm overflowing with people who you can’t spend more than a class away from, to my quiet home in CT for a few weeks, to a different dorm filled with people that I have never met and never ended up meeting. After returning home at the end of the summer for a few weeks, it did not take long to become accustomed to Dunkin’ runs breaking up my lazy mornings that spanned into even lazier afternoons lounging around with my dog until dinner with my family. It obviously wasn’t a surprise to me when I cried at the airport saying my goodbyes, but it was surprising to me that the homesickness hit me as the airplane wheels touched the ground.
My first few days here were long days jam packed with little excursions to keep my mind occupied. My first day in Milan consisted of a trip to the Duomo with my Fordham-friend-turned-Milan-roommate Jess (peep her blog at jessicataylor.co), and the rest of the week included 2 days of orientation, an afternoon in Navigli, and running around the city buying groceries and home goods and applying for a permit of stay (side note: this is the biggest scam in all of Italy). Naturally, then, I didn’t really have time to accept the feeling of being homesick until the first rainy day when we didn’t leave our apartment.
I had told Jess earlier in the week that I was nervous to call my parents because I knew hearing their voices would at the very least make the back of my throat swell up from holding back tears and I could not have been less prepared for the literal sobbing that I experienced when my mom started using her one voice that’s reserved for when any of us are painfully sick or upset (@Mom I know you’re reading this, and if you pretend you don’t know what voice/tone I’m talking about, you’re lying). The call through Whatsapp was frustrating to begin with due to a poor connection, which made it worse hearing my parents and brother get continuously cut off, and I’d be blatantly lying to myself if I didn’t consider that call my most difficult conversation. Being exhausted and upset is never a good combination, and when you throw being in a foreign country without your family into the mix, there’s no way you can keep your guard up enough to hold back the tears. It also doesn’t help when you have the absolute best family and genuinely can’t imagine how your life would be without the people in it.
The whole point of this post is that after talking to them and getting the first wave of homesickness over with, I genuinely felt so much better about my ability to take care of myself a full continent away from my home. I’ve never doubted for a second that my family, though over 3000 miles away, can still manage to walk me through those days when missing home seems unavoidable, and they definitely reaffirmed my confidence in that fact over the phone. I’m not saying that I won’t struggle with bouts of homesickness over these next few months, but I do know that I have the absolute best support group through my parents, brother, and friends. So if you’re reading this because you’re planning on going abroad, be realistic about how emotional you’ll get, but also don’t be scared when you actually do get upset. I could not be more excited to be spending a full semester in Europe and have no words to express how grateful I am that my family is A) letting me do this, and B) standing by me (through my phone) every step of the way.
This was for sure my most dramatic post, but I want to be as personal with my experiences abroad as possible.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for further updates on my travels throughout Europe!