As Australians, many of us countdown the days to our next flight. So, when I applied to a university in Taiwan and was accepted, it was a dream that was to become a vivid reality. It was all a whirlwind of bright colours – from my plane descending over a humid city, brimming with unfamiliar tones and people, to nothing but pulsing excitement when touring. However, after a few weeks had arrived and left I stared up at a cream ceiling, with a feeling in the pit of my stomachs that swelled, rolled and shifted, never quite finding the right place to settle.
The word is long and unforgiving, and never quite carries enough weight until we experience it ourselves. In a paper written by Chris Thurber and Edward Walten, homesickness is defined as “distress and functional impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home and attachment objects, such as parents”.
When we experience homesickness, we often feel anxiety, nervousness, sadness, unable to adjust to a new environment. Our minds are brimming with thoughts of home, and the moments that make it a home. For me, it was smoothies in the morning with my parents, the sound of my beloved dog in the house, and the familiar accents on the radio. It was the smell of brewing coffee in my local cafe and my neighbour shuffling down their driveway to check her mailbox. It was all elements of Australian life.
I’ve always found reading poems that reflect my feelings in a particular moment is helpful in processing my thoughts. “My Country” is a beloved Australian poem written by Dorothea Mackellar at the age of 19, while homesick in the United Kingdom. She had travelled extensively with her father throughout Europe in her teenage years. In 1904, she first put pen to paper in London, and redrafted it numerous times before returning to Sydney. In her words, she draws comparisons between the United Kingdom and Australia, expressing how much she longs to go home.
So, if you’re feeling you’re homesick, missing this amazing country that we call ours, know that you’re not alone. And you can always come back home.