How we Pulled it off Living in Italy: Homesick?
How we moved to Italy. Dealing with…Homesickness?
This part is called: Am I starting to long for the US?
PART 19: I thought it might be interesting to share how we pulled off living in Italy for part of the year. I will post some steps we took.
We are in Galatone, Puglia, until the end of September, then back again in January.
Our theme is: How do I deal with missing life back in the states?
Step 1: Since our choice is to live in two places, in California and Puglia, Italy, we follow the basic 90 days in and 90 out rule (see previous blog post on how that works). The time back in California gives us time to pause in order to reflect on and refine our experience of living abroad.
Step 2: I am now living my last day of 90, before flying back to California until our next time here, in January. When friends ask me how I feel about returning to the States, I find myself saying ‘I am ready”. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but hearing myself say these words repeatedly gave me pause. Why am I “ready” to go back?
Step 3: Missing and feeling the lack of. Without being aware of it, I am starting to realize that there are some concrete things that I do not have in place yet in our life in Italy, and the lack of these things is feeding into my feeling of being ready to leave.
I started to make a mental list of things I want to take care of back in the US: I want to see my dermatologist, my eye doctor and make a dental appointment. I want to find more weather-appropriate clothing for Italy, since I have trouble finding clothes that fit here (previous blog post on shopping). There are a few products that I use that I can’t find over here. I want to get back to my regular gym routine, and get my diet under control.
Step 4: Getting things in place so we can enjoy our time.
Listing some of the things that I am looking forward to either doing, needing to take care of or getting in place is helpful for me as we look ahead to our sojourn in Italy. Becoming aware of what is making me feel ready to return to the US enables me to get some of these things in place over in Italy; this can help prevent our magical time here from being overwhelmed by homesickness.
Step 5: Causes. First, I ask myself if there are any causes that increase the feeling of being “ready” to go home? Yes. For me, living out of my suitcase for extended periods soon makes me feel ready to return to the US.
I realized this when I decided to travel around Italy for the month of September before returning to California for 90 days. Though I loved the opportunities to see and do new things and meet friends, after some weeks of sleeping in different beds, trying to chase down healthy food, trying to find a gym, trying to be spontaneous and responsible…I had enough.
Everyone is different, but what I discovered was that a month on the road was too long for me, and in the future I will modify that.
Step 6: Leave in California. A good question to ask myself is: what are those things that I want to leave in place in California, and not import to Italy right now? For me, these include: my primary doctor, my dentist, and my regular checkups, since I am a cancer survivor (yay!).
Step 7: Put into place in Italy. Another good question to ask myself is: what are those things that I can put into place while living in Italy? Again, the answer to this differs for each one of us. For me, these include: finding a doctor I trust in Puglia should any medical needs arise while there. Organizing my diet and increasing my protein intake by purchasing and using a grill. Becoming more acclimated to the rhythm of life. Planning and balancing travel experiences with staying in and savoring the area in Puglia where we live.
Step 8: Thought and planning.
Solutions to issues that make me long for the US will take a bit of thought and planning, and our 90 days out is the opportunity to do so. But if I neglect dealing with those things and issues that are causing me to miss being back in the US, my experience in Italy will diminish. I’ve come too far to let that happen.
There is nothing wrong with feeling that one is ready to return to familiar surroundings after being abroad. But if I find myself wanting to return back to my home country because I feel that I can only obtain the relationships, products or services that I need, perhaps I haven’t dug deep enough in Italy to connect and make a life that works for me. This comes with time, reflection, experience, and connecting to my local community.
Watch for my book coming around the 1st of the year: "Stories from Puglia: Two Californians in Southern Italy" (https://www.bookdepository.com/Stories-from-Puglia-Mark-Tedesco/9781913680640?ref=grid-view&qid=1667499931286&sr=1-1).
More next time.