I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced homesickness before (hmmmm… except maybe when I went to Brownie camp when I was about 9 or 10). But since I’ve been living in the Netherlands? Nah! Not at all. Missing my family and friends, yes. Missing English pubs, definitely. English food in general, hell yes. But yearning to be in the UK. Never.
In case you haven’t noticed… I love Holland and I love living here. My 4 year expativersary (gasp!) was a couple of weeks ago and I also won an Expat blogger award last month!! Massive thanks again to everyone who voted! 🙂 But on a recent trip to the UK, I realised I actually missed it.
My Finnish friend, Senja, and I went over for the weekend for work and it made me see England with fresh eyes. She giggled at actually being able to wash your hands with hot water in bathrooms (in Holland they often only have a cold tap), she marvelled at the trees and all the greenery whilst we were on the train, and she was super-impressed by all the hills!
On said train – we were both beaming after the ticket inspector had been along to check our tickets. His enthusiasm and gorgeous English accent was infectious: “Good afternoon lovely people, please can I check your tickets on this fine day?” then each person got a different response for handing over their ticket: “Thanking you, cheers, much obliged, ta, thanks, excellent…”.
He really made a thing out of NOT saying the standard “thank you”, it was so cute.
I love my mother tongue and this was a perfect example of why. You can be so creative because we have so many words for everything. My inner geek was brimming with joy!
Then there was the food.
I introduced Senja to the delights of Scotch Eggs and proper British cider… not that Apple Bandit crap we get in the Netherlands!! (Where is that even made?)
We went to a typical English pub along one of the canals in Oxford and feasted on proper English pub grub.
Oh… and the people… *swoon*! It wasn’t just the train inspector who made me miss home. All of the people in the cafes, pubs and shops we went to were all so friendly and welcoming. I forgot what customer service was actually supposed to be like.
Since that visit, I hadn’t been ‘home’ for 5 months – since just before Christmas. That’s the longest I’ve ever been away from the UK. Normally I go back every 2 months or so, but for a variety of reasons (including not having a passport plus other trips we had planned etc) it just didn’t happen. And I’m not sure it was good for me. I’ve been pining.
In a way, I’m glad I was away for that amount of time because it’s given me the chance to realise and appreciate that I do miss my home country. Quirks ‘n’ all.
I’ve really missed my friends and family too. Sure, there’s Skype, but it’s just not the same… there’s something about meeting face-to-face and there’s also something about talking to people you have known all your life.
I have some great friends here in NL, I really do. I’m lucky. But there is something different about friends you have known for 3-4 years and people you have known 20+ years. The history, the gags, the nicknames, the days before Facebook and smartphones. We knew each other before all of that. Remember when you used to call each other’s house phones? Or a REALLY long time ago… knock on their front door!?
I miss those people. The people who know who I really am. Before I was a blogger and an expat. Just Hayley. Not Hayley, the one who moved abroad…
I realise that this isn’t one of my most structured or elegant posts (no shit Sherlock) and that it’s got a bit rambly so I’m wrapping it up now. I think I needed to write this for me, to acknowledge this feeling, and if anyone enjoys reading it then I’m glad I posted it here and not just in my diary 😉
I’m an expat who loves living in Holland. But I also love the UK. The eternal expat dilemma right…?
Luckily for me, in a couple of weeks I’m going ‘home’ for 16 whole days… and I can’t bloody wait!!
Have you ever been homesick? If so, how do you deal with it?