The Homesick Expat

I met with my personal trainer twice this week. Both times, he wore me out quickly. My legs weighed at least a ton each as I climbed the steps of my building up towards my apartment. I showered then fell asleep almost immediately.

This week was full of early nights. I was tired. Very tired.

Then Friday came. I dropped my bag on the couch, slipped off my skirt, opened up my balcony door for fresh air, and crawled into bed. Before 5:00pm. My nap was continuously interrupted by people [whom I love] texting my phone and my cat acting mischievously.

In my opinion, there are few things worse than waking up from a nap feeling worse than when I laid down.

I started crying.

When one is exhausted to the point of tears, all other emotions spill out at once: I have good friends in Istanbul, but I feel really lonely. I love my job, but I had a rotten day.I enjoy learning Turkish, but I feel inadequate. I love planning travel, but I’m horribly homesick.

I miss my family more than anything. Even after I bought my own house, I still saw my family three or four times a week. I spent almost every Friday night treating my dad to dinner and ice cream. I’d make him watch movies (usually Star Trek or James Bond) with me while I fell asleep on the couch, waking up periodically to shush him when he often didn’t say a word. He’s a teacher, too. He knows that Friday night is sacred.

Through my tears, I stood up, made some pasta, and started watching Modern Family.

Season 7, episode 3, Alex and her boyfriend break up just after they move away to college. She drives home and takes comfort in her own bed. Her parents ask why she is there. She starts crying, tells them, and they hold her tight.

I did that once in college, too. During my freshman year, I was home every weekend. During my sophomore year, I was on the colorguard team in the marching band, so I stayed on campus every weekend. After a home football game one night, I drove home around 11:00pm. I told my parents how tired I was, laid in bed with them for awhile, and before going upstairs, asked if we could have pancakes in the morning.

I would have given anything for a hug from my parents last night.

Instead, I baked brownies.

Yes, I knew that by taking this job, I was sacrificing proximity to the people I love most in exchange for a new adventure. I count my blessings every day for the great experiences I’m having. That said, I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that the expat life is challenging and isolating from time to time.

This morning I woke up feeling better, but still fragile. I slept till the sun came out, I could smell the flowers next to my bed, and my cat was sleeping between my legs. I’m going to go for a run, shower, then take myself out for breakfast and enjoy some time in the sun at a cafe or two. I might even buy myself a sassy new jacket.

Afterall, if there’s anything I learned about culture shock last year, it’s, “Don’t stay home alone when you’re sad. Get out and do something good for yourself…”

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