Friday, March 4, 2011

Foreigner Friday: On Being Homesick

I have been in South Carolina for 3 ½ years now. I really like it. And it has finally started to feel like I belong here, like I’m not some crazy alien creature that is trying to fit in. Admittedly, the first few years were very strange and I always felt as though I was on vacation. Or in some bizarre movie. That still happens every once in a while when I find myself in a place where nothing seems familiar, but it’s not the norm anymore.
Coming here was far from easy. We had to go through a lot of steps, including a sworn testimony in which I had to attest to the fact that I had never killed any Jews in WWII, etc. (Just a side note: If I had been e.g. a communist, I would not have been allowed to enter the country) I also was subjected to medical tests for all kinds of illnesses and had to get all my shots renewed, including a vaccine for Chickenpox, which I had already had as a child… Last but not least, the whole deal cost us quite a few Dollars.
Somehow, people are shocked when I tell them about the complicated process. The usual response is: “But you’re married to an American! Doesn’t that make you an American citizen???” Um, no. Quite far from it, actually. Can you imagine how many new American citizens there would be each year if it were that easy? I think four years from now I will be eligible to apply for US citizenship, if I wish to do so.
Even though I love it here and it is now my home, I still get pangs of homesickness for Europe. I suppose that this is normal- people tend to miss the things they are accustomed to and most familiar with. Most of all, I miss my family and friends. I wish everyone knew what a luxury it is to have family close by (provided they get along with them…)
I hope people understand that for every person who emigrated here, it is an adjustment. Even if it is a financial gain (which does not apply in my case), it is hard to be away from home. Not all the time, but some times.
Some days I look at my kids and think of how sad it is that my parents, my brothers, and everyone else I left behind is missing my children’s development. My parents still have not seen my son, who is now already four months old. Thank God there are affordable flights available now. Along with technology like digital cameras, Skype, etc. Imagine how it must have been for people who came to the US just a hundred years ago.
Even though this is my home now, I still get homesick for what I left behind. With my parents and in-laws living on two separate continents, no matter where we end up we will be apart from at least half of our family. It can be rough, but we knew that when we decided to get married. In 1 ½ years, when my husband retires from the Army, we will move somewhere new. Hopefully, this place will be our permanent residence, the place where we will all feel at home.

1 comment:

  1. We've gone through the process too for my hubby. We just got the green card (seriously ... most secure card ever!). And just like you everyone asks "so does this mean D is a citizen now?" Some days I wish I just had a sheet of paper to hand out explaining the process!