1-Visit friends and family
This is a must if you won’t be seeing them for a while. Social media and video chat is great, but nothing beats seeing someone face to face and being able to hug them goodbye. If it’s possible to bring the group together or into a few smaller gatherings, that’s helpful, but if you can’t do that and have the time, try to go see them individually.
It’s worth it. You’ll soon be sitting in another country missing them.
2-Finish all the projects you’ve been putting off
For me, these projects are mostly yarn related, such as finishing knitting boot cuffs and two pairs of gloves as well as finishing spinning all the alpaca wool I have. It also includes finishing some books and the entirety of NCIS on Netflix (2.5 seasons left) and putting my hermit crabs in a new home for their new family.
Whatever it is for you, which might include more responsible work-related projects or home-improvement, if it’s not something that will travel internationally, try to finish it before you leave. Just be realistic about the time constraints.
3-See your favorite places
Is there somewhere in your hometown you like to hang out in or a restaurant you’ll really miss? Do you hike the same trail once a month or meet your friends at a certain bowling alley? Do you love going on trips into a nearby city?
Do it before you leave so you have the experience fresh in your mind when you hop on the plane.
4-Eat your favorite foods
Family recipes don’t travel well unless you know how to make them, so eat as many as you can before you go. Have your favorite ice cream and your all-time favorite breakfast-for-dinner meal. Be picky about making sure you enjoy it.
Then drop the pickiness and be ready to try a bunch of new foods in your new home.
5-Remember why you love your home, but also why you’re leaving
It’s difficult to walk away from things you’ve known your entire life and go somewhere different. Even if it’s a country that doesn’t seem very different, like Canada or England from the US, it will come with its own customs, vernacular, and quirks. You’ll have to learn them, and while learning them, you might end up thinking “it’s better at home.”
That’s normal, so before you leave, set yourself up to take the culture shock and homesickness head-on.
Remember your home. Make a list or make up a song or just think about it. What are the things you’ll miss? What are the things you won’t? What do you draw on when you’re sad or happy or angry? Will any of those things be able to come with you?
Spend some time with it.
For me, I think about my dogs. I think about the way my dad will still cover me with a blanket if I fall asleep on the couch and he thinks it’s cold, and I’ll remember that my mom always has Rita’s coupons in her car. I’ll think of my brother coming and going, always moving, and I’ll think of the people that gathered to bid me farewell, and I’ll think of the goofy friends that’ll still be hanging about the campus I’m leaving.
When you’re satisfied, change gears and think about why you’re leaving. What are you excited for? How does this play into your dreams or goals? What are you worried about? What groups are you going to join in the new place, if any, and why?
I think about Gaelic, and Outlander, and all the questions I seem to have when working with Celtic or Scottish material. I think about my goal to have a doctorate, and my desire to know if that’s something I truly want or just think I want. I think about the thrill of living in an actual city for the first time in my life and all the food I will have access to. I think about the dancing group I want to join and the running club and the knitting group. I think about cafes and tea.
With all these things in mind, when you find yourself frustrated or overwhelmed with how different things are, you have things to draw on to remind yourself that it’s okay to miss the things you love, but you came to the new place for a reason, and you were determined to enjoy it or at least give it your all.
And reminding yourself of that before you leave will help you remind yourself when you’re away.
Your Bonnie Celtophile,
PS-What would you add to this list? What projects do you want to finish before you go? Any advice for future travelers?