Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dear Frau: I'm homesick

Welcome to another edition of Dear Frau. It's kind of like Dear Abby, except with an international twist. If you have a question about life abroad, feel free to contact The Frau and maybe your little Frage will be in the next edition of Dear Frau.

Dear Frau,

I've been here 9 weeks. I've eaten the cheeses, the Sprüngli, and the Schnitzel. I've lost the 20 pounds that lazy Americans bring with them, despite having eaten the cheeses, the Sprüngli, and the Schnitzel. I've taken more pictures of the mountains and lakes than Facebook can handle. I drink Prosecco whenever it is available. So tell me, how do I conquer the overwhelming waves of homesickness that literally take my breath away even as I enjoy my surroundings?

I'm 36 years old - can it really be this hard to be away from my family and friends?! We Skype, Vonage and Yahoo!Messenger. We e-mail, snail mail and send overpriced tokens of our love. But still, I feel like a 10- year-old at a never-ending sleep-away camp.

Any advice and/or humorous/horrifying stories of crying on the train and/or Panoramaweg would be welcome.

Danke a ton.

The Lone Kansan

Dear The Lone Kansan

You may feel alone but look around and you’ll see someone who is wearing sunglasses even though it is foggy out. That would be The Frau, trying not to show her red eyes. It’s funny how airports can be either the happiest or the saddest places, depending which gate you are at.

The Frau would like to say that the homesickness gets easier, but it doesn’t. It just gets more manageable as Switzerland becomes more like home. And if you just moved here nine weeks ago, congratulations, you survived the hardest time of year to be away from family. Things can only get easier now.

To deal with homesickness, The Frau recommends being an American. In other words, keep busy. Find a job, find a purpose, find a group of friends you enjoy being around. Or write a blog, write a journal, or write a book. These are some things that have helped The Frau.

Finally, don’t beat yourself up for feeling blue. It’s normal. If you didn’t miss your family and friends The Frau would be more worried.

As you know, you are not in Kansas anymore. So the next time someone cuts in front of you at the store or barges onto the train before you can get off, just click your red heels together and think, “there’s no place like home.”

Anyone else have tips on how to deal with homesickness?


M'dame Jo said...

Well, Lone Kansan, I can't really advise anything, but I'll try to reassure you by saying this: You've been here 9 weeks, it means you arrived just at the most depressing time of the year, when most of the country is under the stratus (or Hochnebel) for a few months and is so gray everyone thinks at least once a week they should probably hang themselves - swiss people included.

I would go to the mountain, take a train or a cable car, go see the Jungfraujoch, the Matterhorn, the Pilatus, see the sun, the gorgeous scenery. It probably won't cure you're homesickness (as it seems that nothing does), but it will take you mind off of if a little bit.

And it should get better when spring comes. I believe being up in the mountains cures a lot :-)

Unknown said...

Lone Kansan here is a lone Ctalan1 I cannot advise, I'ms till struggeling with the same, but I wish you the best!

Kelli Shoe said...

Dear Frau and Followers,
Thanks for the advice. Getting though the holidays helped a little - hearing the classic "I'll be Home for Christmas" just about sent me over the edge. If you saw a redhead buying truffle cakes by the boatload, that was me, attempting to comfort eat.

We have booked a couple of trips (as suggested by M'dame Jo) and hope that pulls me out of the funk.

Knowing I'm not crazy helps. Thanks for your advice and well wishes.

Jimmy said...

It's best to embrace the differences and get out of your house to suck the life out of Switzerland. It's easy to focus on negative things, but look around. You're living "the dream" in a highly developed society with so many beautiful nuances to explore.

I've found that when I stop learning, only then do I begin to feel a little homesick. Usually, it's because of too much free time and not enough meaningful activity.

How much time a week are you spending holding on to your US ties?

Good luck. You'll be fine. You're not the first to feel this way and will not be the last.

Chantal said...

Thanks to everyone for chiming in. The Frau appreciates it! Good luck, Lone Kansan! Glad to hear you have booked some trips. The Frau thinks things will get easier for you soon.

Anonymous said...

About that time of year, my husband and I would look at each other and say one word, "Espana." And off we would go for a couple of weeks of Mediterranean winter: bright sunlight, less crowding, ebullient atmosphere. A real rest cure.

Chantal said...

Sun always helps.

Travel With Lulu said...

Maybe there is an American Women's Club in your area ( They can help you get plugged into the community :) Hope that helps

Unknown said...

I am looking for my memories through the stories, the narrative of people. I feel it is difficult but I will try.


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