This is a tough one.
I’ve been getting it a lot lately. There have been a few variations. “Gonna miss everyone?”, “Scared about being homesick?”, “Worried about not seeing your family?”.
And it’s not that it’s a question that provokes deep thought and introspection, or gets me worried, or makes me nervous. It’s just a hard question to answer without offending people, because the short answer to all of the above is a resounding no.
I’ll admit, the first couple of times I went overseas by myself, I missed people. My very first trip without parents was a three week high school exchange to France, and yeah, I missed my friends a fair bit. Social media wasn’t a big thing back then, apart from ye olde MSN Messenger. I didn’t own a laptop or a smartphone, and Skype certainly wasn’t an option.
The second time I jetted off, it was for a three month Eurotrip. I had a girlfriend back home, and I missed her like crazy. Whilst Skype was certainly an option this time round, I’ve always been a bit behind the curve when it comes to technology, so we didn’t get to speak much, apart from occasional drunken moments when I’d buy a phone card and get all emotional for about twenty minutes, before the credit ran out. This wasn’t ideal, and it even led to a breakdown at one point, which the mate I was travelling with could have assured you was NOT a pretty sight.
So, sure, I’ve missed home before.
But these days? No, I don’t miss home. There are a few things that I certainly prefer in Australia, but there are more than enough aspects of European life to even the keel. I know I can speak to my friends whenever I want. I’ve got a smartphone, which has Skype, so why not give people back home a buzz when I’m in the streets on a Sunday evening? Freiburg showed me that it was easy to keep up with other people’s lives. And I do spend an inordinate amount of time on facebook, which helps (or hinders, I don’t know).
I also like to travel whenever possible, and do as many new things as I can think of. So sometimes you just don’t have time to miss home. Getting bored, complacent in your small German hometown? Bugger it, let’s go to Croatia for a weekend, see what happens.
I’ve hated leaving people, too. When I was in Freiburg, a close friend came to visit for the weekend, and when she took off, it hit me that I wasn’t going to see her again for at least a couple of years, maybe ever. I wasn’t ready, and I cried like a kid who’s fallen off his bike.
But the thing is (and this is the one people don’t seem to get) that I’ve done a lot of leaving people over the last few years. I’ve left Australia a few times, I’ve had to leave other places that I’ve grown to love, other people have left on their own adventures; I’ve said more goodbyes than I care to remember. Sad fact is, you get used to it. If I still got upset every time I said goodbye to someone, life wouldn’t be the happiest. Whilst I’m not by any means the king of popularity, I like to think that I have a solid, reasonably extensive and diverse group of friends in Australia, each one of whom I value and love spending time with. But if I was going to be devastated about leaving all of them, then it’d be a pretty miserable existence overseas.
Which brings me back to the original question. How do you explain all of the above to someone without offending them?
Write a blog about it, I guess.
Then again, who knows. Maybe I’ll have a drink too many at my going-away party and bawl my way out of the room.