On Homesickness

Have you ever been homesick? Not just that vague feeling you sometimes get on holiday, where you can’t wait to get home  and sleep in your own bed. I mean the type where you can’t see the end in sight, and it just makes you so crushingly miserable.

In 2009, I lived in the USA for four months. I went as part of my degree to study abroad at the University of Connecticut. The study abroad component of the degree was a big factor in deciding what I wanted to study. It wasn’t until a year and a half into my degree, when the US application process started, that I began to have a few reservations. Many of these were financial, but a part of me was starting to realise that I was going to be away from home for a quite a long time.

By the time it actually came to leaving for Connecticut in August 2009, I wasn’t altogether unhappy. It was a new adventure, and I was excited to be visiting the States for the first time. Saying goodbye to my family had been more emotional than I had expected, but December didn’t feel that long away at that point, and excitement mixed with nerves was my primary emotion.

But the actual reality of living away from home for four months wasn’t great for me. It wasn’t miserable from start to finish; looking back I know that I had some great experiences and I learnt a lot. But I am not good at making friends, and despite being thrown together with the rest of the Study Abroad students from all over the world, I didn’t really manage to make any close friends from amongst them. I was pretty miserable during the first week, which was supposed to be all about breaking the ice and making new friends, because it felt a lot like everyone was making friends, but deliberately leaving me out (this is almost certainly down to my own paranoia and insecurities, rather than anyone actually being mean).

There were a couple of things that got me through. Firstly, a friend from my home university, Gemma, was studying at UConn too. Although she had missed orientation week, as soon as she arrived and we realised that she was living just one floor above me, things started to get better. I am eternally grateful to Gemma for being my friend and keeping me sane for those four months! As well as Gemma, I had a visit from my best friends in all the world when Rob, Jen, Anna and Vicky flew to New York to see me and stayed for ten days. I know that they got a fantastic holiday out of it, but you don’t get better friends than that. Saying goodbye to them was pretty awful.

 

~ I may have been homesick, but I never failed to appreciate what a beautiful and quintessential American campus I was living on ~

Finally, in this wonderful world in which we live, modern technology means that we don’t have to be entirely separated from our loved ones. I skyped people from back home almost every day, keeping my homesickness at bay slightly. Of course, the problem with speaking to people is that it makes you realise just how much you miss them!

Now would seem like a good time to impart some wisdom about how to deal with homesickness, but I don’t really have any. I wasn’t very good at dealing with it! I’ll leave you with this, a song by George Harrison. All Things Must Pass is a good mantra to keep in mind about most things.

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Photo an Hour #6 ~ January 2014

Saturday was the day I chose for January’s Photo an Hour. When I set that date, I didn’t have any plans, so I expected it to be a day of photos around the house. In the end I did go out in the evening, so while the morning’s photos were a bit on the dull side, they got a bit more interesting as the afternoon wore on.

 

10am ~ Reading some blogs in bed.

11am ~ Still in bed (being lazy, and feeling slightly hungover), watching last week’s The Voice in bed.

 

12pm ~ Finally out of bed and having a bath (I later realised that this photo was a bit risqué, but by that point it was too late!).

1pm ~ Boiling an egg for a sandwich.

 

2pm ~ Having a hot chocolate despite the fact that I didn’t really have enough milk.

3pm ~ One of the more mundane photos I have posted to Instagram. I was trying to get a top dried that I wanted to wear on Saturday night.

 

5pm ~ I missed the four o’clock photo, because I was in the car with Hannah. But at five o’clock I was in Sainsbury’s with Hannah while she picked up some vodka.

6pm ~ More alcohol! I was actually planning on not drinking on Saturday night, but things snowballed after a glass of Prosecco and I ended up quite drunk.

 

7pm ~ Listening to some Stevie Wonder while we were getting ready to go out. Sir Duke is one of my favourites.

8pm ~ In the pub; just a coke for me.

 

9pm ~ Hannah and I spent the evening with some friends, and in lieu of anything else to take a photo of, I took one of the dog. She’s called Molly.

10pm ~ Pictionary! Hannah and I won, even though I drew the most appalling horse you ever did see.

 

11pm ~ In the taxi on the way home. Not the best photo in the world, but I was drunk and it was dark, so I am forgiving myself.

12am ~ Watching Sherlock back at Hannah’s, because we had lots to discuss and it was easier to watch it and discuss it at the same time. And I got to drool over Rupert Graves again, even though there was not nearly enough Lestrade.

I took fourteen photos this time, as I did last time. I never really know when to stop, so I just keep going until I forget, making sure that I have an even number of photos to keep the blog post tidy!

As ever, some other people joined in with me:

♥ Louisa at Duck in a Dress joined in on Instagram and her blog
♥ Kim joined in on Twitter
♥ Hannah joined in on Instagram
♥ Lisa at Beauty is Inside and Out joined in on her blog
♥ Bev at Confuzzledom joined in on her blog
♥ Anna joined in on Twitter (but you’ll only be able to see her photos if you follow her)

Next month’s Photo an Hour day will be February 22nd, if that suits everyone. Whether or not you have plans, you should still join in if you fancy it, because trying to find the inspira
tion in mundane tasks is fun! Let me know if you’re joining in, and as ever, use the hashtag #PhotoAnHour on Instagram and Twitter, so I can take a look at your photos.

Two down, ten to go on number ten of 32 Before 32 – Complete a Photo an Hour post monthly.

The Road Not Taken

I often spend time thinking about what my life would be like if I’d taken different paths. It’s a fascinating concept; the idea that life constantly demands that we make choices, and though we have no way of knowing how things may have turned out if we had chosen differently, it’s fun to wonder.

In the film Sliding Doors, we get to see how Gwyneth Paltrow’s character’s life would have been diffrent if she hadn’t missed a train. You could probably drive yourself crazy wondering how life may have been different if all the small things had or hadn’t happened. We’ve all missed trains, or turned left instead of right, and we’ll never know how those small and seemingly inconsequential decisions affect our lives.

The Road Not Taken

~ Letterpress Poetry Print available from Lennah Press on Etsy ~

But, in my life, there are a few things that, had they gone differently, would almost definitely have affected who I am today.

  • When I was finishing primary school, my parents decided that they didn’t want to send me to local secondary school, where all my brothers and sisters had gone before me. They chose instead to send me to one about ten miles away. I am not entirely sure what made them decide to do this, but it’s a decision I ever resented. Now, at the ripe old age of 31, three of my best friends (and favourite human beings) are people I met at that school. There is next to no chance that I would know them now if I had gone to the other school!
  • I was meant to go to university straight out of sixth form, but I decided to take a year out. The year turned into six years, and I ended up attending university as a mature student. This is another decision that I don’t regret; it was absolutely the right thing for me to have done, but I have to wonder how my university experience may have been different if I had attended as an eighteen year old, and indeed, how that experience would have affected the sort of person I am today.
  • When I eventually did go to university, despite being what was termed a mature student (I never felt particularly mature), I applied to live in halls. I was allocated a room, and then a couple of weeks later, I was contacted to say that I was being allocated a different room. It was in the same building, just a couple of floors lower or higher. For me, making friends has never been easy, and the best way for me to even think about talking to new people was to get to know the people in my flat. Hannah and Samm were those people, and through them I met Daniela and Richard. Those four people became my best friends and university, and as I never shared a class with any of them, I have to assume that I never would have met them if I’d been in that original room. I can’t even begin to tell you how different my life would be if Hannah wasn’t in it, and I think that all of my university friends will be in my life for a long time. I like to think that I would have made at least a handful of friends no matter what had happened, but I’m very glad that I made the friends I did!

So these are my three Sliding Doors/Turn Left moments that sometimes give me pause for thought. It’s fun to imagine that there are alternate Janes out there, leading different lives!

Merry Christmas!

Just a quick post to wish all the very best Season’s Greetings to all my readers. I’ll be around with posts on and off between Christmas and New Year, but they will be sporadic, and I’ll probably be sleeping off a food coma for the majority of the festive period. I hope you have a lovely time, however you choose to celebrate over the next week or so.

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BEDN ~ Light

When I read the prompt for today’s BEDN post, I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about. Elizabeth chose light in celebration of the fact today is Diwali, the Festival of Lights celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains. Diwali is not something I know an awful lot about (though the Wikipedia article is saved for later), but light is obviously a very broad subject, so I decided to talk about fireworks.

I’ve always loved Bonfire Night, coming as it does at the height of autumn, and one week before my birthday. It’s often been said how strange it is that we commemorate an attempted act of terrorism each year, but honestly I think the meaning behind the event has been long forgotten, and now we all just enjoy the pretty colours that fireworks provide!

Sparkler Photo
~ Photo of my nephew, by my dad, from a fireworks party we had a few years ago ~

Some years I don’t get to a fireworks display, but I always try and play with sparklers! I often have then on my birthday, and this year I want to try and take some fun photos, like this one my dad took. I always write my name (doesn’t everyone?) and I think it’s short enough that we could get a good photo of it!

So, at this time of year, for me light means the sky being lit up with lots of pretty colours!

Happy Diwali!