Miriam’s Stay Abroad in Boston – Storytime – Part Two

Homesickness and how to deal with it

That is a central issue when you leave home, even if it is temporary. I am dealing with a bout of homesickness right at this moment as I am writing these words, and I can tell you it’s not easy, especially considering that I have never been away from my parents for this long. And I love my family, dear Lord, I cannot put into words how much I do. Also I miss my friends, so much it quite surprises me I have yet to experience a complete mental break-down because of it.

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With the technology nowadays, of course there are numerous possibilities to stay in contact, as you can have phone conversations, chats and video chats over the internet without paying a cent. Long gone are the days when a minute phoning another continent cost you 10 bucks and left you feeling hollow and poor. And it certainly helps a lot to be able to have a phone conversation with my mom every morning (or, for her, noon). Yeah, I know. I’m one of those people who actually has to call her mom every day. I am not ashamed. I miss her so much, and her reassurance and support are what made me being here possible in the first place.

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But occasionally, when you’re already feeling miserable about being away, a conversation with friends and/or family can make it worse. Of course it does. You keep being reminded of the exact thing that makes you feel miserable: missing home. In those situations, the only thing that I have found to be of help is distraction. That is the key word: distraction, distraction, distraction. When you stay abroad to study, or to work, or to do an internship (like I am), it is inevitable that you meet new people, and that you have a lot of new places to see and experiences to make and work to do, and those things are golden because they provide you with the most important homesickness remedy, distraction. I think the only reason I did not have a complete meltdown in the first week of my stay here is that I started my internship right away. I literally arrived on Monday night and started working on Wednesday morning. Some might say that was too short notice, but I think it was key in me being okay with the sudden change, because the impressions kept rushing onto me so quickly I barely had the time to process it all, and in the haste and stress I completely forgot that I was supposed to miss home.

Now, with about half my time here up, I miss home a lot more, strangely enough. However, I have also found people I like, even care about, and spending time with them is a wonderful, distracting thing.

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Also, I have had to reconsider the image I had of myself. I have to admit, I only applied for that internship position because I was convinced, CONVINCED, I was not going to make it. I did not expect the acceptance email until it came, and even then it took me about a day to figure out that, yes, this is real, and yeah, I think I might consider actually doing it. And then there was the whole visa process, and I remember throughout it thinking, oh, I will never get that visa, so no worries. And then I DID get that visa, and I found a place to stay, and I got a scholarship to pay for at least part of it, and STILL I was not convinced this was actually happening until I was saying good-bye to my parents and two of my closest friends at the air port.

 

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So, what happened? Why the hell did I not think me applying for an internship abroad might have actual consequences? And why was I so convinced I was never going to be accepted? Was it because I never thought I would be capable of doing this? Most likely, that’s what it was. I had never thought I would be able to face a challenge like this. And when I did do it, I expected myself to be way more of a wuss about it, when the truth is I have been doing rather well. So what does it all mean? Did I grow up somewhere in the last 3 years without me noticing it? Maybe so. Who knows.

Stay tuned for Part 3 on Friday…

Read Part One here: Miriam’s Stay Abroad in Boston – Storytime – Part One

You can find Miri here:

Twitter: OriginalSGreenD

Instagram: miri_mh8

Miriam’s Stay Abroad in Boston – Storytime – Part One

More than a year ago, in late 2014, I decided that it might be a good idea to go spend some time in another country. As a German majoring in English, I have, even before making that decision, consciously tried to focus my studies on American literature and language only, because the US have always appealed to me more than any other country in the world, be it because I prefer the varieties of American accents over the other varieties of English that there are (linguistics is my second subject), or because I am a movie maniac and the USA have undoubtedly given us some of the best movies and TV shows in the history of the medium of television.

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Anyways, whatever the reason, I wanted to go to the US, and I wanted to stay for longer than a week, and somehow I got myself accepted for an internship AND a scholarship, and after asserting that I am neither a terrorist nor an ill-willed person trying to overstay their welcome, the American consulate granted me an exchange visitor visa for three months in Massachusetts.

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I moved in with a family in Malden, which is a little far off, but it was super cheap, and as a poor student, that was the most important factor for me. The second most important factor was, however, to not live alone. This is really important for anyone considering a stay abroad. The prospect of living in a foreign country without any familiar people around you is daunting enough. So try imagining living without literally anyone, familiar or not. The people I moved in with were strangers I only knew via the internet, but I shared my living space with them and could turn to them with any and all questions I had, which is incredibly central when you’re in a country you have never been in. Now, of course the US and Germany aren’t that far apart culturally, but you don’t know the differences truly until you leave them. And for having support through my first couple days, I am extremely grateful, since I have been told that the first few days are supposedly the worst. If that is true, I have had a seriously good stay so far.

Eating in the USA

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What’s there to say about the food? Burgers are awesome. Yeah, big deal, like we did not know that already. The coffee, surprisingly, is really weak. Not bad, but weak. I thought it was just me, but I have talked to other Germans living in the US and even a Brazilian guy I met at Faneuil Hall, and they all say the same thing: American coffee is weak. Not bad-tasting, but a lot thinner than what I am used to. How can New York be the City That Never Sleeps when their coffee is such a thin brew? Or maybe it’s just Massachusetts?!

The other thing that Europeans are surprised by is the portion size in the US. You know, I was extremely confused about why their pizzas were so expensive when I wanted to get dinner at Regina’s Pizza, so I bought two slices, and, yeah, uhm. I understood then. One slice of pizza in America is about the size of one small pizza in Germany. Considering that, their pizzas are cheap. I still ate both slices, though, because I was hungry and I paid for them.

The first thing I learned to love about the US was a thing we do have in Germany, as well, but which I had never taken notice of before, and that is bagels. Heavens, how could I live all my life without bagels up to this point? Bagels are the best thing that has happened to me on my stay so far. If there is a heaven, its streets must be paved with bagels.

Lastly, it’s no secret that there is a large Italian community in the US, and that Italian food is probably the best food on earth. Boston’s North End has a street that is not actually called “Little Italy”, but it might as well be, because the houses looked like a scene straight out of “The Godfather”, and one Italian restaurant sat right next to the other. All of them not fancy, but small, cozy places, packed to the brim with people. And the food I had there was wonderful, authentic Italian food in wonderfully European portions, and after that I learned about the existence of cannoli and that when you are a guy and a competitive athlete training every day, you might be able to eat three cannoli at once, but for a lazy girl like me, one of these things was like a second dinner. However, they are extremely unhealthy, and therefore of course extremely delicious.

Stay tuned for Part 2 on Wednesday…

You can find Miriam here:

Instagram: miri_mh8

Twitter: OriginalSGreenD