Ireland – Feels Like Home (But Not Quite ….) On Homesickness – by Allison Brennhofer. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Ireland – Feels Like Home (But Not Quite ….) On Homesickness – by Allison Brennhofer. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

[Fact: I’ve found it impossible to be homesick when surrounded by this much beauty]

We have been in Ireland just over a month. At this point, the trip has brought many experiences and events for us nearly every day. However, it is also that point where many of us have been getting homesick and, in my case at least, restless.

It was interesting to note that a good number out of our sixteen students started getting a little crabby and irritated with each other. I was one of them and did not understand why I was so easily annoyed until my friend Annie pointed out that it had been a month since we had gotten here. I think everyone has finally adjusted to life in Louisburgh, which is great but also comes with the ups and downs, including homesickness.

I have never really been homesick. My first two years of college I loved being in Duluth. Honestly, I just don’t like transitions. As soon as I get comfortable in a place, I adjust quickly. My first semester of this year was different for a few reasons. It was the first semester my sister was not also at CSS with me (she graduated last May). While my brother started at CSS this past fall, he is not as sympathetic to me when I’m feeling whiney and just want to complain about the world. My family is also experiencing some health issues with one family member, so it was much harder being away at school. In order to prepare for being in Ireland the second semester, I only returned home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and one weekend in between where I had a doctor appointment. Looking back, I think it’s hilarious I thought that was preparation for this semester.

[The Church Bar]

It is one thing to understand that you will be across the ocean from your home for three months. It’s quite another to actually be across the ocean from your home for three months. I will also be spending an additional month in Europe after the Ireland trip is finished, so I am looking at four months of being away from home completely.

I have found that the age old cliché of fighting homesickness by keeping busy to actually be true. The more things I do in a day, the less time I have to think about missing my family and my cat. I also am more tired at night, which means I fall asleep instead of lying in bed, thinking about every random thought that populates my brain when I should be sleeping. A few of my friends have also noted that if you stay cooped up inside all day, that is a surefire way to feel miserable for the whole day. No matter the weather here, most of us go for walks into town or to the beach just to explore for a short while.

One factor that, counter-intuitively, made me more homesick was that we traveled to Dublin this past weekend. I loved that city more than I can express. It felt like home to me, the atmosphere was very similar to Saint Paul. All of my friends here on the trip are from small towns, so they were itching to head back to Louisburgh while I bemoaned the fact that we ever had to leave. One might think that it would help, being in the city and keeping busy. I would have agreed with you before the trip. But once we were there and I felt so at home in the city atmosphere, I knew it wouldn’t last. We stayed there two nights which were fantastic. The restaurants and nightlife in Dublin were so fun and we had a great time. We actually stopped at a pub that was a restored 17th century church, which was rather an incredible experience.

[River Liffey, which runs through Dublin and separates the city into North Dublin and South Dublin]

Once we left, though, and were back on the bus, that was when I felt even more down. Within ten minutes of leaving the city center, there were fields with sheep. Now, I love sheep, I do. I have more pictures on my camera of sheep than any person really ought to and my profile picture on Facebook right now is a selfie with a sheep. My professor promised we’ll go visit lambs soon and I plan on holding him to that. But to leave the city I fell in love with and to see a field so shortly afterwards, I felt more homesick than before we had even gotten to Dublin. I wonder if I would be less homesick if I was based in a city like Dublin. But, like most things, I was feeling better a little while later. And when we arrived back in Louisburgh after two nights in a town called Kilkenny, I was ecstatic to be home after five full days of travel and sightseeing.

Allison serves as an editor for The North Star Reports.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

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34 Comments

Filed under Allison Brennhofer, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

34 responses to “Ireland – Feels Like Home (But Not Quite ….) On Homesickness – by Allison Brennhofer. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

  1. Grace Young

    I have always wanted to study abroad for a semester but I haven’t done it for this reason. I do not want to face the homesickness that I would experience. I spent a month in the Canadian wilderness with 7 other girls in high school with no contact with anyone back home and the adjusting was so hard for me. I applaud you to go out of your comfort zone and spend 4 months abroad. I think that this article very closely relates to the culture shock article posted last week. I think that when we experience a culture different than our own with little contact with what we are familiar with, it is very hard to adapt. In our World History class, professor Liang talks a lot about how humans are contradictory and complex. I think that this relates to studying abroad. We really want to be away from home and experience new cultures and learn new things in different places, but we also want to be closely tied to our homes and families. Although this idea varies from culture to culture, I think that a sense of universality can be seen within them all.

  2. Kalahan Larson

    I feel like this has been one of the realest articles about the adventures in Ireland. This is something that I think everyone can relate to, even if they haven’t traveled abroad, or even been gone from home for a month. A lot of people experience home sickness when they go off to college. I personally chose Duluth, not only because I love it here, but because it is an easy 2 hour drive home, so if I need to go home in a hurry, I can. Being in a new place is fun and exciting, but it also sometimes makes you wish you could be home around familiar things. I know that when I travel, even when I am not homesick, I miss my bed more and more each night that I spend away from home. I know I personally could not travel abroad for more than a few weeks without my boyfriend or some of my family members without getting homesick, so props to you for adjusting and taking on this experience both feet at a time.

  3. Greta

    The feeling of not being home for months is insane. I can go about a week when on vacation then I am ready to go back home with my own bed and shower. And on top of that, the feeling of being homesick sucks because that’s all you can think about is being home with your family. So good thing you kept yourself busy so your family wasn’t on your mind. Thanks for sharing!! 🙂

  4. Caroline Grube

    This was a very relatable article! I enjoyed reading this and hearing about your experience in Ireland. I think something that many people don’t talk about when traveling is how much a person can get homesick. I have grown up in a small, small town (1,212 people to be exact) my whole life. I have never been one to like bigger towns or cities. Marshall, Minnesota which is 15 minutes south of the town I live in is about 13,000 people and at times I find myself being thankful that I don’t live in a place that big! However, coming to Duluth, was a HUGE adjustment for me. I was homesick almost before I even left my small corner of Minnesota. However, after a long adjustment period and finding some of the best friends I will ever make, I have found a way to make Duluth my home away from home. Thank you for sharing your experience in Ireland!

  5. Matthew Breeze

    Homesickness can be so hard to deal with and even harder to talk about. I am glad that you wrote this article to talk about it at least a little bit and hopefully it helped to get some thoughts down on paper and out in the open. I particularly enjoyed how you said that you settle in very quickly, but that the transition time is difficult. I also find it interesting that you found a space that reminded you of home in Dublin, I can see how that would be lovely, but could also be slightly painful. I can imagine that living in a small town after coming from a big town would be an added difficulty. Going from the big city life to small town is quite an adjustment. I hope that you enjoy the rest of your time in Ireland and the rest of Europe!

  6. Michaela Campbell

    Allison,
    I think it is good thing to own up to how much homesickness can impact someone when they are far away from home. In addition to that, I liked how you pointed out the different ways your level of homesickness might be depending on the type of town you are residing in, in Ireland. It makes sense that if you come from a bustling area such as the Twin Cities here in MN, then a place like Dublin in Ireland would be well suited for you. Besides that, I am impressed with the Irish due to the fact that they made a church into a modern bar. There is some creativity in that needless to say, but I hope that things get easier as your time abroad continues, and that you get the chance to stay busy and visit more places!

  7. Rachel Reicher

    Thank you for sharing, Allie! It seems like you know just how to cope with the homesickness you are experiencing. Leaving home can be a hard thing and there is no way to prepare the actual experience until you are in the moment. It is good to see that you have identified what makes you feel at home; being in the city in Ireland. This is a way that you are able to make a connection with back home, yet continue to explore during your study. It seems that you see something new every day. The church bar seems like a wonderful place to visit (if you are of age of course). That is something the United States should be considering. Save old, abandons buildings and reform them into a place that could sustain a business, such as a bar. It is so unique to hear about all the different historic places in Ireland that are still standing and flourishing. Hope you are enjoying your time and feeling less homesick!

  8. Paige Perreira

    I related to his on a borderline spiritual level. I’ve definitely experienced my fair share of homesickness, especially second semester. I was actually very surprised that I wasn’t as homesick first semester, but as soon as I came back to school after winter break, I instantly wanted to come back home. The three weeks I got to rest and be with my family was so nice, and I adjusted to it very very quickly. The anticipation of Easter break has been killing me, and I’m counting down the days until the summer is here. I’ve found a silver lining in this, though, because I’ve been able to bond with my family more, since we aren’t arguing nearly as much. Thank you for sharing your story!

  9. Hanna McLevish

    This post is very relatable. I experienced homesickness my second semester of college last spring. I think it was because I was around my family for a longer period of time, then had to come back to the reality of school. It’s nice that you have friends there to help you along with it. Hopefully things will get better for you and you can distract yourself more with doing more things all day, and you will start to feel better. Just imagine how much nicer it is going to be after the end of this to go home and see all your family and friends. All this time apart will make the reunion that much better. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Avnish Miyangar

    I totally understand the homesickness part. It is the opposite to me as you are closer to my home! I was okay the first semester because I was in a fall sport which takes up most your time. Once that goes and its just you and school it feels a lot worse. I will be going home this Christmas so it is still a long way away. Keeping yourself busy and trying not to do things that make you miss home so much helps. That worked for me but hang in there and at least you know you are not alone!

  11. Joel Scheuerlein

    Very intriguing and well written. I have always wanted the opportunity you have had and be able to study a semester abroad. I wish I could get this opportunity in Germany, for the I can visit family. Unlike most people I have never experienced home sickness, so home sickness to me is a rather odd subject. I guess this is just because of the way I grew up. I moved out of my parents house at the age of 14 for high school, I then went on to college at 18 were after a year I enlisted in the military, I went over a year without ever seeing my family, and then I returned back to college. Most summers I spend time traveling the country and discovering new places to fish. I also grew up in a family were we would go camping for a month in the summer in a new state each year. So I guess you could say I am a wonderer, every where is my home, and I never feel alone. This is what made this article so appealing, the talk of home sickness, a unique thing that I am unaware of.

  12. Megan Bingham

    Traveling so farm from home can be very scary because it is an unknown and we as humans fear the unknown. I think very highly of you for going on such an amazing trip for so long. I would be very nervous to do one month that far from home. I would do everything I could to get out of doing that trip, unless my family and loved ones were going to be with me on the trip, then it would be a little easier. I am also from a small town and I do not think I would be able to be comfortable being so far away from it. I like to stay with in my normal boundaries.

  13. Dylan Brovick

    Homesickness isn’t something that I have ever dealt with too much in my life. I haven’t gone on many trips without my family that were more than a couple of weeks, but even then i did start to miss my family and dog. I cant imagine being away for multiple months but it does make sense to miss certain things at home. I would agree that staying busy is probably a good way to keep your mind busy and away from thinking about back home. Also being so tired that you don’t really stay up at night is probably a good thing because i hate overthinking about things while laying in bed. Hopefully more trips to the cities in Ireland and around Europe will be able to be made in order to keep the busy lifestyle going and your mind distracted. I am sure there are plenty of fun and new experiences to be had every day.

  14. Alexa Lee

    I agree with an earlier comment about this being one of the realest articles about studying abroad. This isn’t to say that all of the other Ireland pieces are not real, but I do think there is something extra to be said about the honesty in this one. It’s helpful to have this as a guide for anyone traveling away from home for a long time, trying to balance the privilege it is, but also acknowledge that it is okay to miss your home and your family. Reading this piece got me thinking about my ancestors for some reason – and not just mine, all ancestors that had to leave their home, for good. I can’t imagine how much they missed their home, and how heartbreaking it was knowing that they were never returning, and the new place they were in was it. Personally, I think that it’s normal to miss your home and your family, but I also think that you aren’t letting it ruin your trip, and you’re still soaking it all in. Plus, we have amazing technology that lets you call, text, FaceTime, Skype, etc. with your family, so that does make it a little easier, right?

  15. Kathleen Reicher

    Thanks for sharing, Allison. It’s great that you adjust quickly to new situations and environments. I know many people struggle with that, including myself. Being flexible and able to adjust quickly is a great attribute to have. Having someone to vent to helps a lot. I don’t have any brothers, but I missed my sisters a lot when I went off to college. I didn’t have anyone to talk about my day with or complain about things that went wrong. So, I understand where you are coming from when you say you had to adjust to life without your sister. Had I not developed a great relationship with my freshman roommate, who got me out of my room a lot, I would have been very homesick for much longer than I was. You are right, staying busy helps. Keep your chin up and stay busy and the homesickness will stay away!

  16. Emily Bugni

    Thank you for your story. I am glad that you are finding ways to cope with your homesickness. I can only imagine traveling to a foreign country and being so far away from home. At least you have your friends with you to keep you company. It also sounds like you are keeping busy which is a sure way to fight homesickness. I have also noticed, in attempt to become less homesick myself, I look at pictures of my family and pets. I also enjoy Facetiming them, which I feel that they enjoy as well. While being away from home is very challenging, it is also very rewarding because you get to enjoy the other part of the world away from home.

  17. McKenna Holman

    It is really wonderful that you have found a way to battle your homesickness! I think being homesick is one of the main problems for many students who study abroad. Being away from home for three months isn’t easy, especially when you’ve spent almost everyday with your family for 18 years. Sometimes, I think being away from home like that is also good practice for the rest of your life. Most of my family lives pretty close together, but even then there are times, when I’m home for longer periods of time, that I don’t see them for weeks, even though they’re literally 10 minutes away. This is an incredible opportunity you have and it’s truly awesome that you’re handling your homesickness so well, because if you get to homesick it can definitely ruin your experience!

  18. Nouqouja Yang

    I really enjoyed reading your post because it made me think of the times when I felt homesick. I grew up dancing and traveling without my parents. My schedule was always packed with things to do so I didn’t think about my family back at home much. I then just got use to being away. Right after college started, my freshman year, it was a little hard for me to open up and fit in at first just because I was always a little quieter at first. This gave me a rough time and I started to really miss home. This was the first time I actually really wanted to just go home to my family. I feel like I can some what relate to this feeling of not missing home but then missing it when you have experienced something that reminds you of home. Overall, going back to what we talked about in Professor Liang’s class, humans are indeed very complex. Thank you for sharing!!

  19. Francesca Do

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us Allison. I believe a lot of people have dealt with homesickness, in some parts of their lives. Whether if it’s traveling, study aboard, going to a far college, or even moving out of your parent’s house. In my shoes, I am homesick, I did not go home for breaks because I had the opportunity to go to Washington DC with TRIO for spring break and go to Chicago with the students from the college for Easter break. These opportunities are once in a lifetime, so I understand the part of me want to experience everything first hand, but the part of me wants to reconnect with my family. But, I believe in today’s society we can call or video chat with our family members, so it isn’t so hard to reconnect with them.

  20. Amanda Sullivan

    Thank you for sharing something so personal! I believe this post is very relatable for all of its readers. It is always so bittersweet to travel but when you get that one sense of reminder that you are not home, it really puts a damper on your experiences. However, it is good that you are able to bounce back so quick from being homesick. Some people are never able to do this, and let that feeling really ruin the experiences they should be enjoying. I’m sure Dublin is a beautiful city, if it is anything like St. Paul.

  21. Hattie Meyer

    I very much enjoyed this article and how it made me think of my first year of college. Having a chance to travel with out your family is an amazing and eye opening experience. The hardest part is when the homesickness kicks in. I can only imagine what it must have been like to be on the other side of the world for four months. I do understand how going to a place that feels like home is heart warming and heart breaking. To answer your question about if its a good idea or not to visit a place that feels like home, my answer is in the middle. You’re right, its a great feeling to jump back into that home feel but on the other end it brings back all your memories of home. In the end I loved the article and how you talked about the experience of being gone from home for so long.

  22. I am so glad that you have found a way to cope with homesickness. I have a strange way of doing it, as embarrassing as it is, I have a thing for crying in airports. Once I leave, I cry, and that’s my homesickness. All of it usually occurring before I even get to my destination! It is strange but I also can now see just how different others cope with it. Cheers!

  23. Thomas Landgren

    Thank you for sharing more of your experiences in Ireland! I really found your article interesting because whenever I think of going abroad Homesickness always comes to mind. I know that it is just a part of the overall experience of travel but it is something that I don’t really want to affect me from having a good time. I feel like the incident you described of visiting a big city that resembled your home and having to leave after two days would increase the overall homesickness feeling. I do agree that keeping yourself busy is a great way to steer clear of homesickness but I believe that it is bound to happen at some point. Great article I can’t wait to read more!

  24. Mariah Koenig

    I have always thought that studying abroad would be a really cool, unique experience but at the same time, don’t want to be that far away from my family and friends for that long. This reminds me of when I was in Costa Rica for 2 weeks. Two weeks may not seem like that long, but when you are with a bunch of strangers that don’t speak any english, and on top of that, you have no way to get in touch with family (even on your birthday), it seemed like forever. Although homesickness may always be in the back of your mind on a long trip, I like how you are able to get past that and still have a great time on your trip with lots of cool experiences. I hope the rest of your trip goes well in both Ireland and Europe! Thanks for sharing!

  25. Traveling and being away from home for four months is very brave of you. It sounds as though it has already been an extremely rewarding and life-changing experience to travel abroad in Ireland. I find it amazing however, that you are still able to make another home away from home in Ireland. Although the homes will never be the same, they are still homes to you nonetheless depending on your connection with the people, the places, and the memories you have. And, I am sure once you leave Ireland you will be missing it as well. Thank you for sharing!

  26. Amanda Greene

    I could relate really well to this article and the homesickness you are feeling. I live right next to Saint Paul, so I know the feeling of enjoying city life. I think that’s why my transition into college went very smoothly is because I still see the city life here in Duluth. When I do feel homesick, I try and stay busy as well. I’ll usually be caught up in schoolwork or I try to hike as much as possible. I’ve been thinking about traveling abroad to Ireland but I’ve been worried about missing home too much. This has given me some more insight. Thank you

  27. Kendra Brunn

    Thanks for sharing! I can relate to feeling homesick, even though I have never been that far away from my family for an extended period of time. This is my first year in college and my first few weeks here were great, but after about a month in Duluth I got extremely homesick. My family is from Anoka, which is only about 2 1/2 hours from Duluth. For some reason, I was convinced that my family would forget about me and do fun things without me. This obviously did not happen, and I am now much more comfortable being away from home. It’s great that you have found ways to combat the homesickness! I can’t imagine being that far away from my family. I hope the rest your trip goes well!

  28. Kalley Friederichs

    Ally, another great post! Although traveling abroad is an amazing opportunity and experience I have also heard of my friends experiencing homesickness during their time abroad.I could imagine being with the same sixteen people can at times be challenging.I am sure everyone has gotten on each others nerves a fair share of times.I found it interesting how you said that you don’t really get homesick, it is the transition that you struggle with more. I hope you have a wonderful time with your remaining time left abroad!

  29. Andrew Bailey

    Allison, I really enjoyed your article and I think it is funny that your profile picture of Facebook is with a sheep. I can somewhat relate to your experience as I am somewhat far from my home in Appleton, WI. I remember the first week I was on school for cross country camp was probably the most home sick I have ever been. I missed my parents, friends back home, and my brother. I was very fortunate to find friends here at St. Scholastica, and these people will be my friends for the rest of my life. I think that it is interesting that when I am away from my immediate family, I am able to find people (friends) to fill that void, but nothing ever fills it completely.

  30. William Brennhofer

    I can understand how being with the same small group of people for so long makes tensions rise. Even with friends that you have you end up with problems that aren’t normally there. I can only imagine what it is like to go from such big cities to the small town that are all over here. I know i would not be at home with so few people around me. I love the nose that cities make, so not having that for a long time would drive me crazy.

  31. Isabella Restrepo-Toro

    I totally understand the homesickness part, and I am glad that the homesickness cliche I mentioned to you before you left is working for you. After three years of being in the States I can say that homesickness is not something that disappears and never comes back. I have lived here for enough time to consider Duluth my home away from home, but it always hits me that I am not home when I am sick and my mom is not there to take care of me, or that I can’t joke around with my sister in the same way, or that I can´t watch documentaries with my dad or that I can’t be there with them when they need me. It is specially worse when I realize I won’t be able to see them again until Winter break and that no matter what I try to do there is always a small reminder that they are not here with me. But remember that you are not alone and that it is okay if other places start feeling like home away from home, as this does not mean your actual home is no longer important but that now you have more places and people near to your heart.

  32. Elaina Wald

    I can only imagine, having never been far from home myself, that it would be very difficult. I thought that I would be very homesick when I left for college, but I had a similar experience to you. I was so ready for college that I hardly wanted to come home for Thanksgiving. However, the longer I stay away from home, the more I miss my family and want to visit them. The remedy of busying yourself seems to work well across the board. Of course, when you leave Ireland you’ll probably be “homesick” for that as well. Thanks for sharing!

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