Experiencing Loss From Abroad

Written by  June 28, 2013

How to manage bad news from home.

Not everyone thinks about “home” when they’re away, and not everyone will miss “home” either. But I definitely have, and you might too, so here is just some reassurance from one of your “homies” (ha!).

Being in Australia—often shortened to “Oz” in our day-to-day conversations—I can’t help but imagine myself as a red-haired Dorothy-like character squeezing my eyelids together and whispering “there’s no place like home” to no one in particular. That being said, there is no white witch waving a wand over me, no sparkly shoes to magically carry me thousands of miles across land and sea to “home.”

I’ve been in Australia for just over four months now and there was probably a “low” point where I really felt like if you had claimed you were Glenda, or maybe just appeared in a sequin dress, I’d be tempted to let you believe you could get me back home. I was that ready to return.

Certain things will make you want to go home that you can’t really anticipate, but you can deal with. In my personal experience, it was when my grandmother passed away in Canada somewhat suddenly around the three-month mark of my trip. Suddenly the distance between my family and me seemed far greater. How could I show those who I cared about emotional support? How could I even properly register the loss? I just felt so far.

But really, I hadn’t moved. I was frozen to the spot. Frozen in Melbourne, until my return date, pre-scheduled, the plane ticket had no feelings. Suddenly it felt like an expiry date, like this itinerary I had made for myself was really a chain keeping me here, away from people I loved. 

But all these feelings can’t be helped. Something like this could easily happen to you. Or maybe something else—a long-distance relationship problem, a sickness in the family, or a loss of a job or pet. Even something that is positive back home can spark this overwhelming feeling of physical distance being somehow connected to emotional distance, like missing out on a wedding, a graduation or a reunion.

It’s better to just be aware that you might feel like this, and also, that you will get through it. At times like this, Internet is key: you can Skype, message and email your family and friends and although it’s not quite the same, you can still show them that you care (and vice versa) and it’s your most instantly-sanity-saving tool. Sometimes, though, something more physical can help bridge the gap in distance too: my roommate and I love nothing more than getting a simple card from home—snail mail is so exciting! 

It might seem counter-intuitive but making a home in your new location will help ease the stress you feel from being away from “home-home” when something big happens there. Make a support network for yourself in your new country, but don’t forget your friends and family back at home—if you keep in touch with both, news will be less alienating and you will feel less shocked, for better or worse, and in turn be better able to deal with the hard parts of great distances.

Add this article to your reading list
Published in Study Abroad Blogs
Phoebe Todd-Parrish

Phoebe Todd-Parrish is an ambitious and adventurous student of Visual Arts at York University in Toronto, who long ago conceded to the cliché of having "caught the travel bug." This itch for new sites and sounds to dazzle her senses landed her across the world in Melbourne, Australia, where she's studying abroad for a semester at Monash University. She can't wait to share all her (mis)adventures and discoveries.

About

Verge believes in travel for change. International experience creates global citizens, who can change our planet for the better. This belief is at the core of everything we do.

For more than a decade, Verge has produced quality resources and events to help people experience the world in a meaningful way, through opportunities to study, work and volunteer abroad.

Contact Us

info@vergemagazine.org
(+1) 705 742 6869

Subscriber care
Advertise
Write for us
Subscribe
Privacy policy