A Gilbertian Outlook on Homesickness from Galway

Lyndsy Hatfield is a student at The College of St. Rose and an ISA Featured Blogger. Lyndsy is currently studying abroad with ISA in Galway, Ireland.

Mac
Mac

In the past week I’ve been really homesick. It’s not surprising because, like all study abroad students, I was warned that this would happen.

I am no stranger to homesickness. I was hit with a crippling bout of it my freshman year. I learned to cope by calling my Mom more 2 to 3 times a week, and she created an account on Facebook, and she would send me sweet texts, and then there was always the wonderful unexpected care package. I became closer with my mom even though I was the farthest I’d ever been away from home. It got better when I gradually got closer with my roommate, to the point of being inseparable. I made friends, got through my classes, and went home on the train at least once a month. Breaks were a God-send. The point is that I got through it. I learned to love Albany, love my college and with each passing day I was reassured that I had made the right choice in going to school so far away from  home.

Then again, I was always just a three and half hour train-ride away from home.

Now, I’m at least 4,000 miles away, separated by the Atlantic Ocean. Now I have Skype, and Facebook, but it’s still not the same. The good news is that I still get to ‘see’ my loved ones, and thanks to the various forms of social media, they can keep up to date with my travels while I’m here in the Emerald isle.

The closest thing I could find to the Ithaca Bakery's masterpiece
The closest thing I could find to the Ithaca Bakery’s masterpiece

The worst thing is that, sometimes, there just isn’t an Irish equivalent. For instance, I desperately miss the Ithaca Bakery, and just the city of Ithaca in general, but more importantly, I miss the Ithaca Bakery’s cheesecake brownies. I have a friend at my college, who is originally from a small town not too far from me. We see each other when we go home for breaks, and she understands and shares my eternal love for this 100-year-old institution. Their food is legendary, and makes homesick college students dream and drool.

Fonz, lovin' life, from my sink.
Fonz, lovin’ life, from my sink.

It’s not just the food. A large part is the food, but there is more too it. It says it all right in the word: homesickness. There’s a million memories that play through my head, that are all about things that I do, people and places that I see, all in a 10 mile radius. I miss the preciousness of my comfortable queen-sized bed, my fat and lovable cat Fonzi, and my other cat, Chessy. She is unequivocally the most photogenic cat that ever was. I miss my dog Mac; he’s part Great Dane, part lab, with a tail like a tree trunk, always swinging back and forth. I miss my house with its 600 foot driveway that’s always a challenge to make it all the way to the road in winter. I miss my Mom’s cooking, most importantly, her mac ‘n cheese: it is to die for and I will vouch that her’s is the best in all the world. I miss my Mom’s smile, her laugh, and the way that we can talk about anything in the world. We can go for a drive, not a say a word, and still have the best time, just because we’re together.

Mom
Mom

I miss the surge of freedom I get when I press my foot to the floor of my red Chevy Impala, Roxy. I love the sound of wind whipping my hair into knots, when I have all the windows down, as I cruise down country roads. I miss that feeling of content when I go around that bend at the bottom of Sayles Corners Rd. The precision and patience I’ve honed, in carefully driving up my grandfather’s infinite winding driveway. The calmness I can find in just sitting in my yard, enjoying a cool breeze, watching my favorite trees bend with the wind. I smile whenever I see the school bus drive by on my road, knowing I once waited patiently to get off, being the third to last person to be dropped off. I feel a sense of pride whenever I turn onto my road.

Sunset Acres in the Spring.
Sunset Acres in the Spring.

I feel like an adult when I drive across the valley to see my Dad. I miss the way he will start a conversation about work, explaining exactly what’s happening on the latest job the company is working on, and just go on talking like I understand every word, when I really have no idea. Whenever I call him, and he talks about work like this, I’m reminded this is one of my favorite qualities about him, talking to me like an adult. I miss his laugh, I miss the way he keeps me grounded, and reminds me whenever I get to complaining over some little thing, that there are bigger things to worry about, and I should consider myself lucky. I miss his half-smile, half-smirk that he does, that I inherited. I miss his hugs whenever I come to see him. I just miss the way he calls me tiger, like I’m still four. He has unwittingly made me so thankful for my visits when I’m home. I have his voice imprinted in my memory. On a good day, I don’t just see him as my Dad, but as the Duke. I can drive over to Jugg St., knowing that some things will never change, and Dad is one of them.

Dad & I.
Dad & I.

I miss my best friends. They know who they are, so there’s no need for names. I miss the stability in just seeing their beautiful faces. I miss knowing they’re only a drive or phone call away.

My BFFs, this was us at Prom
My BFFs, this was us at Prom

I miss my friends and family, but I would be truly remiss if I forgot 6 very important family members. My Aunt Linda, Uncle Ed, and their sons who I consider to be the brothers I never had: Brian, Matt, Tim, and Dan. There are days when I miss these people so much it hurts and I just have to smile in spite of myself. My aunt and uncle are two of the kindest people you will ever have the pleasure of meeting. Their sons are just like them in that respect. Whenever there’s a birthday party, or holiday, my Mom and I, and all the boys will congregate over and Uncle Ed and Aunt Linda’s. It’s just tradition. It’s always sure to be loud, have tons of food, and have the boys picking on me, like they never get the chance. I miss them all the time.

Dan, Aunt Linda, me & Uncle Ed, at my graduation.
Dan, Aunt Linda, me & Uncle Ed, at my graduation.

Now that I’ve rambled on about every little thing that I miss about life back home, I suppose I should expand on my ‘Gilbertian Outlook on Homesickness.’ Well it’s pretty simple. I’m a big fan of the author Elizabeth Gilbert. She is known for writing books such as, Eat Pray Love, Committed, and The Signature of All Things. My Gilbertian Outlook comes from Eat Pray Love. At one point, Liz says to her ex-husband, “So, miss me. Send me love and light every time you think about me… Then drop it. It won’t last forever. Nothing does.” It’s one of my favorite lines in the book, and I think it can definitely be applied to my current predicament.

So I’m sending light and love across the Atlantic Ocean, then I will drop it and go on my merry way. I usually go down to Shop St. and try out a different restaurant or bakery because you can never try too many new things!

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