Homesickness is one of those weird things. I see it as a psychological problem, but it can actually manifest itself physically, with vomiting, nausea and all kinda of other ‘side effects’ if you will.
But what do you call homesickness when it isn’t actually home that you are longing for?
I came into this trip thinking that the time at the Au Pair school in NY would be boring, and just another stepping stone in the way of getting to my host family. Instead, I came out of it with wonderful memories, and wonderful new friends. And then, when I arrived at my host family, I felt for a little while, not homesick for my family and favourites back home, but for the training school, the dorm, and the wonderful friends I made and had spent 4 long (and often sleepless) days with.
The thing about the training school is that everybody is in the same boat as you are. They’re all away from their family. They’re all missing someone. They’re all having to put up with the terrible cafeteria food (and therefore probably starving and living off pringles and bananas purchased from the grocery store across the road, like I was) and having to deal with the fact that up to 95% of the people they are sharing quarters with don’t speak the same language as they do.
But why is it, that after only 4 days together, you crave to be with these people once again?
I can say, almost with certainty, that I have formed some friendships in the last week that I will have for a lifetime. I know that if I want to go to Mexico, or Sweden, or Germany, I will have somebody who will readily and willingly accept me into their home.
So this is a little warning sign for those of you who are reading this that are not yet Au Pairs, but possibly about to embark on the au pair adventure. Once you have left the training school, you may very well become “homesick”, not for your friends and family in your home country, but for your training school family. When you are at the training school, maybe internally complaining about the roommate you have that coughs during the night and keeps you awake, realise in 3 or 4 days time when you are sitting alone in your room at your new home, having not yet met anybody your own age, you will miss those friends you made, and you might even miss sharing a room with the ‘cougher’.
Waking up at 3am at the training school and not being able to get back to sleep was frustrating, but you knew that if you wandered into the common room with your laptop, somebody else with the same jetlag problem would soon join you. Or if you got off the phone with your mum or your sister or your boyfriend and burst into tears, you knew that there was always someone there who understood how you felt, ready to give you a hug and tell you that it would be okay.
So I have two tips for you – firstly, be prepared to be “training school sick”, because it will happen. Secondly, don’t underestimate the friendships you make in those 4 days on Long Island, because I guarantee you, some of those friendships will last a lifetime.