Maybe I said some things I didn't mean. Sure, those words may have derived from real feelings back then, but my views on this place have changed. As a semi-angsty high schooler, I used to feel semi-frustrated with the place I called home. My hometown, otherwise known as Suburbia, USA, is a small, affluent, predominately white, well-known in the area, "Housewives of Beverly Hills" type of town. On weekends in June, families build community with other families at the local farmers market. In December, Town Center is gleaming with lights and the ice rink over the hill is always packed with couples wearing peacoats.
Over a year ago, I packed the back of the car and off to college I went. I was so excited to leave the house and the town I knew so well. Even though everything in my room looked the same, I acted like I was moving out and never coming back. I said "bon voyage hometown!" and whisked away into my new college-lifestyle. As the months flew by, I found myself immersed in my new life, with my hometown being the farthest thing from my mind.
Now that I have a year of college under my belt, I feel a new kind of homesick. To start off, I am studying abroad in South Africa. This place is approximately a 16 hour plane flight, a couple of oceans, some continents and thousands upon thousands of miles away from home. In all honesty, it isn't the distance that makes me homesick. It isn't the fact I can't go home, even if I wanted to that makes me miss what I left behind. I don't know if I can pinpoint the exact reasons why I miss being home. Actually, I'm going to give it a shot so here we go:
Being in a completely new environment is something I haven't ever experienced before. Sure, Azusa Pacific University was a new environment that first day of college. My dorm was different from my house, my new friends were different from my old friends, but throwing myself into the utter unknown was something I had never done before. I'm talking about a complete 180 people. The culture of South Africa is a complete 180 from what I know so well in the United States. Yes, there will always be things here that are somewhat familiar, like an APU hoodie and a familiar face or two. But other than these few things, studying abroad in a country I had never been to before was the most "out of my comfort zone" in terms of cultural differences I had ever experienced.
Being here has been insane. But am I really here? I often find myself thinking about home. I wouldn't call myself homesick... Okay maybe I'm a little homesick. Without a shadow of a doubt, I appreciate where I am in so many ways. I love it here. I feel present, yet I miss certain places that bring back certain memories from home. I look at pictures that spark a memory and I instantly transport myself to that place, missing the people I was with at the time. I miss the fall leaves, my backyard, my pets, my friends and my family. I love my new home here in Africa, but being in a new culture makes me miss my own culture at home even more.
I love being where God has placed me. He is with me at home, wherever I go.