So April 23rd
marks 8 full months that we have been in Chile…it is also probably 2-3 months longer than I think I have ever been away from Canada before, so the topic of homesickness is on my mind. My previous longest stretch was probably 6 months back in 2001, when I spent a semester abroad “studying” in Sweden (quotations author’s own)…admittedly, with this experience I am working harder, and probably drinking less, despite the more reasonable prices for alcohol in Chile vs Sweden, adjusted for inflation…actually, you may not even have to adjust for inflation. Anyhoo…
I think I mentioned to someone that homesickness goes in waves. There can be days or weeks where I think nothing about it, and I have no issue with the fact that we are here, and life is different, and I embrace that change and everything that goes with it. And then I have days or weeks where it’s completely the opposite. It aches…it aches to be away from family, from friends, from home, from everything that I know. We have been lucky to have frequent family visits down here, and I think that has been positive for our adjustment over
It's Fall right now...
...and that makes me confused
these first 8 months. It’s made home seem a little less far away, when in truth, it is so far away. And then you have all the vestiges of modern technology…facetime to see people’s faces (hi mom), what’s app to text with friends at any time (mostly about how sh*tty your hockey team did in the playoffs, stupid Flames), internet to know what’s going on back in Canada (will Justin survive the SNC scandal?), it all helps to make things seem a lot closer than they really are…in the end though, that physical separation just can’t be overcome sometimes.
The thing that perhaps make me think the most about the absence from home is that the girls will do a lot of growing up here. Zoe remembers Vancouver very well, and talks about it all the time – from time to time she asks if we can go back to our Vancouver house tomorrow…and my heart breaks a little to have to break it to her that at the moment, we have no plans to go in the immediate future. Her memory astounds me sometimes. (I should also mention that Zoe’s favourite shirts are all her Canada
Maelle enjoying a little taste of home
ones, or Roots one…it’s cute, what a hoser). Maelle on the other hand, is going to grow up a bit Chilean...by the time we return she will most likely have spent more time here than in Canada. So basically, she may be a little more Chilean than she is Canadian. And I have to keep in mind the opportunities the girls have here, to learn Spanish, to learn about the world in a different way than they would at home....also, we have a pool in our backyard, their school is great, and we live in one of the nicest neighbourhoods not just in Santiago, but likely the country. But sometimes it’s the little things that trip me up. I can’t teach them to ice skate here, it’s harder to get involved in the community, in sports and activities that would otherwise be offered. I’m a bit less connected with them because of the longer work hours, I don’t do pick-up/drop-offs, and because we have a nanny for the extra hours we are away (mind you, having a nanny is a huge benefit too).
One of the biggest decisions that we have to make down here, and this actually may sound trivial, but I can assure you it’s not, is the balancing of wanting to take advantage of our three or so years down here, to travel and see South America, but also taking the time to go home and see Canada, to be there with family and friends. Work is busy, and vacation time is limited, and look our kids are young...EVEN thinking about traveling with them makes me anxious. I think I was more scared of the 20 hour flight down here with a 1 and 3 year old than I was of actually moving down here. As of right now, it may be another year before I step back onto my home country’s soil, and at times that is overwhelming, but it’s made less so by the fact that we have family that is able to travel down here. So it becomes a lot to think about trying to make those tradeoffs. Which again #firstworldproblems (or as they might say in Chile, #quichoproblemas). I mean, if we were still in Van my travel plans would not include Argentina, Brazil, and skiing in the Andes in the next four months. But at the same time there are days where those tradeoffs are very difficult to work through.
So I guess the conclusion of all this. Homesickness is a real roller coaster ride of emotions…from the dizzying highs, to the terrifying lows, to the creamy middles…I suppose it’s neither hard, nor easy, it just is. Maybe the last word on it though, and something that never changes – I am, as a Canadian, incredibly fortunate to hold the passport I do.
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