The Upside of Homesickness

It has been one month since I moved to Tel Aviv, Israel from Atlanta, GA. Woah, I am tired. I go go go all day and I get home and it hits me. I’m about 7000 miles away from home. I looked it up on Google Maps. There’s no option to drive, bike, bus, or walk. It’s very far and sometimes I can feel the distance.

I visualize myself as a little speck in the world of Google Maps. My pin point is on Tel Aviv, Israel and I have to zoom further and further out to find the spot in Atlanta, Georgia that I call home. When I get really desperate for glimpses of home I may even resort to watching Lifetime Channel’s newest and trashiest reality TV show, Little Women: Atlanta. I’m not picky when it comes to reality TV and really any show filmed in Atlanta is fine by me.

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Sometimes I feel like Ben (my boyfriend) and I are jumping out of a plane together. We have parachutes and we will land okay somehow but my stomach is flipping and I can’t see much except for what is directly in front of me. There is just so much newness in my life right now. I have never experienced so much newness in my entire life.

Side note, the word “newness” is cracking me up. If you are reading this, please say “newness” out loud five times fast. It sounds so funny to me. Maybe because lately, I have been listening to words, English and Hebrew, so differently. Words sound different to me now because I am so hyper-focused on trying to understand what people are saying and how they are saying it. Also, I think before my Hebrew gets better, my English and Hebrew and ability to speak either language is going to get worse. In the meantime, I am going to enjoy laughing at many words, especially “newness.”

I feel so foreign today. It’s hard to imagine living here feeling “normal.” I know it will get better and “these things take time,” but right now it is tiring. It’s exhausting to feel like the ball is never in my court. I don’t have the upper hand. I am the one asking the questions, and lots of them. I am the one seeking advice. I am checking every street sign to ensure I am on the right bus. I am asking people two and three times to re-pronounce or try and translate words.

There are so many strange things I did not realize I took for granted. I did not know until moving here that I used to enjoy introducing new people to each other and being the one to make others feel comfortable. Now, I am always the one being introduced. I am always the new person. At home, I took for granted that in most situations I had more to contribute. I had more advice to give and I could give it in English. I know I will not always be the new person here and that some of these things will get easier and more familiar, but right now things feel so foreign.

The plus side to this hyper vigilance and constant question asking is that it forces me to pay attention to the world around me. I can’t zombie my way through a day mindlessly. I am being pushed to learn outside of my comfort zone.

I know this is something wonderful. I am being forced to live a little more fully and thoughtfully than I was. There are so many ups and downs, but what a ride! So for now, I need to take a deep breath, slow down, and tune into the world around me.