“Go study abroad!!” they said. “You’ll make friends, don’t worry!” they said. “You’re going to have the time of your life and will barely think of home!” they said.
So far, I agree to disagree on this. The study abroad counselors touch on loneliness a little bit during orientation, but no one really specifies how isolating this can feel. And to be honest, you don’t really buy into all of it until you’re finally here and experiencing it on your own. For me I was basically thinking, Hm, I don’t miss home yet… I’m fine? I don’t know when this depression thing is supposed to hit, but I think it’s in the middle of the semester. I was terrified my first two days here, scared out of my wits and throwing up with anxiety (ugh). No matter what people said, you can’t prepare them for feelings when they haven’t quite hit them yet, and have no idea when they’ll come.
I know, I have roommates and live with a host family, I know I’m always surrounded by people. I even made two friends at church this past Sunday. I’ve made connections with people all over the place, and I love my home stay. How could I be lonely, you ask? It’s hard to constantly meet new people and get to know them on the surface. No one here knows me as deeply as my family and friends at home.
No one here knows my insecurities and fears and anxiety and stress the way that people at home know those things. I’m sure I will be making lasting connections with people by the end of my time here, and I know that our friendships will be deeper than they are at this time. But I just am really missing my people at home that truly know me (the ugly parts) and love me anyway.
I miss my family and Austen, not ever having to really explain myself to them, they just let me be. They understand my sense of humor and my attitude, they’re not always telling me to do things that aren’t like myself (like come out partying?? lol nah I’m good).
They know me so well, in fact, that they know they don’t need to worry about me being here. They know I’m ultimately doing fine. They know that I’m not missing home too much yet, and they know that I’m going to be so happy to come home, and that I’ll be a different person, but also I’ll be the same. This experience isn’t going to change or alter the way my brain works, but it is going to affect my worldview and attitude towards the rest of the world, and my view of God and faith and control and patience and trust and hope.
My people know that I’ll be fine. I’m a pretty stable person in terms of my behavior (like being in bed by 11pm at the LATEST, even on the weekends, like watching Netflix or YouTube on a Friday night instead of going out with anyone to do literally anything lol). I know that God’s got this better than I do, and that feelings are fleeting, but He is not. My situation here is temporary, as is my place on this earth, but as believers we have this eternal reassurance and confidence in the FACT that it’s all going to be okay, in the end.