Rethinking "Homesickness"

I remember so many spring afternoons at Kutztown when I would sit in my car and want to fall asleep, but a small lump in my stomach constantly scratched at my ribs, keeping me awake like caffeine. I named this feeling “homesickness” and I used to let it battle my drowsiness to see who would win: my need to sleep or my need to feel “at home.” Having been a commuter, 45 minutes to my house felt like a drive to a new state sometimes, and having spent one semester at KU, “home” did not feel like the right term to describe it. Once spring ended, summer brought me 3,000 miles away to a place I had never been with people I didn't know. Until the excitement of being somewhere new set in, I felt afraid. I missed the idea of having a home I had spent 18 years building. Ireland was breathtaking but anxiety-producing; everything felt unfamiliar, because it was. 

    Much of my studies in the month I spent in Ireland were centered around immigration and literature. Ireland’s population has still not recovered from the potato blight of 1845, and even today, Irish citizens still immigrate to other countries. In spite of all the immigration out of Ireland, each piece of literature still expressed a desire to return “home” and reconnect with Ireland. Being so far away from what I called home and reading about how much others desired to be where I was standing made me begin to question the idea of “home” and “homesickness” entirely. The idea of standing in Ireland, wishing to be back in Kutztown, while people in Kutztown were wishing to be in Ireland didn’t make any sense to me. 

    Through all my readings and experiences in Ireland, I began to realize that “home” means a lot of different things to different people. For some, home is where they spent their childhood. To others, home is simply wherever their family is. For others still, home is where their heritage lies: places they may have never even seen.

    I think homesickness is a lot less about feeling “at home” and a lot more about just feeling like you belong. The thing about belonging is everyone is a global citizen to a world we can only hope to see the entirety of. Once you travel enough, you change to the point where belonging becomes a fever dream, and home feels more like a utopia, a no place; homesickness disappears.