Whether you’ve lived away from the United States for one week, three years, or a decade+, finding yourself homesick and discovering things you miss about America is bound to happen sooner or later.
A friend said it best, “Sometimes it feels hard to admit that we’re homesick because we feel like we should be grateful to live here.”
BINGO. And we are grateful. Literally every day I think about how thankful I am for this opportunity.
But you can still miss things from America while loving where you currently live.
As of writing this, we’ve been living in Germany for three years. We arrived during the pandemic, so while that was a $hitshow in and of itself (look, there’s no way to sugarcoat that; living overseas during the pandoozy was horrible!).
We did go home summer of 2021 we needed out of here. But since all the regulations were lifted, we’ve stuck around and we’ve truly been loving it. Of course, I miss family, but I haven’t been homesick.
Until this past month.
Winter can be really hard in Germany. It gets dark super early. It’s cold, rainy, and windy almost every day, and that can really mess with your mood.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
In fact, there’s something called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which is a seasonal type of depression. While the symptoms of it don’t match up with how I’m currently feeling, I wanted to include this as it’s a very real thing, and I encourage you to seek professional help if you think you might fall into this category.
The military base where we’re currently stationed will loan out “happy lights” aka light therapy boxes, that “can cause a chemical change in the brain that lifts your mood and eases other symptoms of SAD,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
I couldn’t sleep the other night; those winter blues started creeping in.
On top of good ol’ winter in Germany, I was supposed to go back home for a quick visit in January…but the military, like always, had other plans.
Instead of hugging my grandma, getting lost among the aisles at Target (probably getting overwhelmed with all the options, too), and picking up a drink from a coffee shop before 10 am, I’ve been doing the solo-parent thing with all the kids.
There’s nothing new about solo parenting; I’ve literally been doing it all their lives. But that, combined with winter and all those feelings, just made me homesick.
It’s fine. And it really is.
I’ll make it back home sooner or later. It was just something I was looking forward to, and then it was squashed.
Things I Miss About America
So the other night when I couldn’t sleep I decided to make a list of all the things I miss from America; things I miss from “home.” And this probably goes without saying, but they’re in no particular order:
- The little drink holder in the Target shopping carts
- Places (coffee shops) opening before 10 am (shopping hours in general)
- Drive-thru places
- Not having to translate everything
- Small talk with strangers
- Going to a public toilet without having to pay
- My aunt’s salsa; ranch dressing from Dion’s
- Family gatherings
- Finding new fun things at Trader Joe’s
- Being able to return something without filling out a custom form
- Walking into a restaurant and not needing a reservation
- CVS, Walgreens, or anywhere where you can buy OTC meds easily
- One word: Costco*
- Air conditioning
- Eating a good burger and not wondering if it’ll be a “meatloaf” patty
- Not having to wait for a bill
- Early morning “fun” shopping right after drop off
- Free water and ice
- Actual breakfast at restaurants (before 10 am)
- Being able to pay for gas at the pump
*Obviously this would be easier if I knew the language. But that would mean I’d have to learn Dutch and German based on where we live, and I’m a German-language school dropout. For what it’s worth, I do understand a decent amount, but still…
**We did find a Costco just outside of Paris (see it here). It was magical and going there is probably what kicked off this homesickness.
After I quickly jotted down this list I was finally able to fall asleep. Just getting it out there and admitting that I was/am homesick was helpful.
While I 100% love overseas and wouldn’t trade this experience for the world, I think it’s healthy to admit these feelings of longing instead of pushing them aside.
Now’s a good time to address the thankfulness I also have for the privilege of being able to shop at an American commissary and having English-speaking friends here; I know that’s a luxury not all ex-pats have.
I could also just as easily make a list like this about the reasons why I love it out here (and maybe I will in the future), but this is more about being homesick, things I miss about America, and the realities of being away from your home country.
It’s not a one-stop cure for those homesick blues but naming the things I miss about America has certainly helped a little bit.
If there’s something you’d like to add to this list, comment below. Or if you’re feeling a little homesick, maybe you’ll find comfort in stating those things you miss about America by making your own list.