Homesickness: Is it a real sickness or what?

I used to be totally none-the-wiser as to what ‘homesickness’ actually meant. My brain: ‘What, you can actually vomit because you miss home so much?’ And now I have started to learn. It’s coming up to 4 months since I left home and – with the exception of a few video calls – since I’ve seen my family and friends and ya know, been in the same room as them and not opposite ends of the world.

I’ve found homesickness to be an absolutely ridiculous thing that can occur for any multitude of reasons. It creeps up on you when you’re most vulnerable – most likely when you’ve been feeling a little stressed or have spent a little too much time on your own. But it is ridiculous.

Just recently, I saw an ad for a full-length hot water bottle for sale in Argos… it made me sad. Yesterday one of my friends posted a photo drinking a Costa coffee. It hurt. My brother told me he was watching Frasier, one of our favourite sit-coms. Oh how I missed breakfast with Frasier on Channel 4. I reminisced on weekend shopping trips after visiting a department store that looked remarkably similar to my local one at home (as department stores do kinda resemble one another, told you it’s ridiculous). And of course, England has just recently been hit with snow and it took me back to last year’s snow and the memories I have of wearing a hundred layers in the office with my work friends.

God, they are all such tiny things. It just shows that as humans, we really don’t need a lot. Just friends, coffee, a good old sit-com and a massive hot water bottle. And we’re set. Of course everyone’s version of feeling at home will be different. Call me weird but they’re the sort of things that make me content.

Even more so lately as I haven’t quite felt 100% and the weather has been as grey as my mood, all I’ve wanted is to curl up on a sofa in front of the TV with a cuppa and a plate of biscuits. The ultimate comfort. But where am I? In a hostel dorm that looks like this….

When your dorm looks like this

Nice isn’t it? Do you like what we’ve (they’ve) done with the place? I think my favourite part about staying in this room has been playing hop-scotch to reach my bed as well as the lovely odour of 4-day old food as a couple of the girls have kindly left their dirty plates in here. Joy!

As gross as this current set up is, living in hostels has taught me a lot and the experience of travelling wouldn’t be the same without them. Hostels have proved to me even more so how little we genuinely need and how much we take for granted. Like having a decent shower, washing cutlery in a clean kitchen, drying cutlery with a DRY tea towel that hasn’t passed the hands of 150 backpackers over the last 3 days, storing your food in a cupboard that’s not crawling with ants, having space larger than a small corner of a room to organise all your ‘stuff’ in and having areas to truly relax and feel comfortable in.

So maybe, as this is hostel #17, I’m finally really missing my home comforts. I should also note that this room is a bad example as I haven’t had it as awful as this on my entire journey up the East Coast, so I don’t know what it is about Cairns that has seemingly turned everything into a dirty, gloomy, homesick mess.

But today I did all I could think to do to get myself out of this slump. After a phone call with my mum (mum’s make everything better: fact), I bought myself a slab of Milky Bar and a pack of malted milks. I returned to my room – after asking for another pillow (screw it, be a princess), got cosy, read my book, watched things on YouTube like Miriam Margoyles on Graham Norton cos she always cracks me up. And I didn’t leave my bed for hours. And it was glorious.

I think the trick to overcoming homesickness is to feed it (in my case, quite literally). Get your comforts in the best way you can, like me watching British TV and snacking on what are always my favourite biscuits to have at home with a cuppa tea. Also don’t beat yourself up about feeling low, just because you’re travelling and experiencing wonderful things doesn’t mean that a) every single day has to be WILD and that b) you’re not human. Travel can be just as stressful as anything else. And of course, talk to your family and friends. And if the opportunity arises, talk to others of your nationality in your hostel, chances are they are always gonna get it.

At least there’s one thing I can take from this; I finally understand the meaning of homesickness. It is a sickness of sorts, it’s just hard to understand (and explain) because it is not visible. But I think, for now at least I know the cure… Food!

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