A moment of delicate violence, when you return to an old life you don’t recognize anymore. Habits crawl back to you and their dust draw shapes of memories your mind rejects. The house tastes and smells familiar, but a familiar that’s not common anymore and you feel both safe and displaced. Your family has to replace the wonderful « daily » people of your life, quickly earning you back. The days go by and when Christmas comes to an end and you settle down, digesting outrageous amounts of food and wondering what lacks.
For many students living or studying abroad, exchange or not, separate from their families, sometimes from their lover but at least from their nations, homecoming drags back a joyful nostalgia. Condemned to live missing either your family or your fellow students, a foreign student finds himself trapped into a sweet life compromise. This permanent in-between state, in between states, splits the heart in two, growing it two ways, never connected to each other. When away, skype calls succeed, loving words from a distance, digital presence of virtual animas, unforgettable but harder to accurately remember as the count of the days flow. Like a good wine strong emotions also run the risk of turning bad with time. Anger may develop inexplicably, feeding from the absence and love one devotes to his far away close relatives.
Homecoming also resolves this vicious kind of conflicts, because meeting face to face helps understand the futility of such feelings.
Homecoming reunites you and your family, even the deepest members you never see, even the ones you thought wouldn’t miss you. In a way, the squished time forces you to condense and intensify family time. Emotions come out easily, jostle old habits and gatherings, even though sometimes bittersweet, change and eventually improve.
Let’s face it, these harmful separations also bring a lot of positive in their victims’ life. Studying abroad means broader experience of human relations, a different approach of the subjects you take, a wider, open mind. Let’s remember there’s a reason you changed country ; better education, higher level of life, freedom of expression, peace… ? thus your new environment must, if not please you, at least complete you and help you stepping day after day on the right track, the one you chose for yourself. Nostalgia and the compromises, sadness and joy, missing and discovering grow you when you let them be your life partners. What you aim for is maturity, greatness of the soul, which you slowly achieve by accepting to put away your yearning for immediate satisfaction, learning to wait, learning to see, to understand and understand what relations are made of. Relations, at least those who will last, unlike the wooden fire can be revived at anytime, can be unwatched for years and still infuse that particular taste in your life when woken up.
All these oxymores, my friend, these harrowing delights of the everyday foreign experience engrave your guts with flaming passion, forge your personality, offer you the priceless gift of international identity and grant you with the title of child of the world.
By: Alex Barbier